TROY, NY — The excitement surrounding Jon Merrill’s first NHL game was short lived. During his third shift at Minnesota on Nov. 3, the rookie defensemen fell into the boards awkwardly, resulting in a two-week layoff. Tuesday at Albany Devils practice at Knickerbacker Ice Arena, Merrill found some silver lining.
“It was a little shorter than I expected,” he said. “It was good to get up there and be around some of those guys in the locker room.”
After skating with New Jersey at AmeriHealth Pavilion, Merrill was returned to Albany late Monday. He arrived Tuesday in time for practice. His status for Wednesday’s 7 pm game against the Hartford Wolf Pack is still in question.
“We just saw the whites of his eyes this morning,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “He’s cleared for practice and I would imagine he’s cleared to play. We are going to have a conversation this afternoon to know for sure.”
According to Merrill, he is ready to step in and help extend Albany’s three game winning streak, but he knows the decision isn’t entirely his.
“It’s up to the coaching staff and the organization,” Merrill said. “We’ll see if I’m in the lineup tomorrow. I’m not really sure; whenever it is, I’ll be ready to go.”
Before his recall, the 21-year-old registered seven points in 11 AHL games. He has posted two goals and five assists.
“He’s a smart player,” Kowalsky said. “He moves the puck well. I think he’s anxious to get back in. We’ll see if he’s available tomorrow.”
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