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By now, most of the hockey community has, at the very least, heard mention of Jon Merrill’s controversies and suspensions during his time with the University of Michigan. He was suspended for 12 games at the beginning of the current season for “team violations” and undisclosed off-ice issues.
Despite his somewhat shady history, 6'3", 210-pound Merrill was drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft as the 38th overall pick. The general consensus is that GM Lou Lamoriello got a second-round pick with top-10 talent whose off-ice antics scared suitors away from the idea of spending a first-round selection for his services.
Merrill’s freshman year at Michigan saw him amass 25 points, including seven goals in 42 total games played. The following year, after his reinstatement with the team following his suspension, Merrill was stellar, posting 11 points in 18 games.
There is no doubt that Merrill is a bit of a wild card, but the general consensus is that he is working hard to get his career back on track at the University of Michigan, on the ice and in the classroom.
Whether or not Merrill will decide to leave the University of Michigan to embark on his professional career remains uncertain, but Lamoriello is in no rush to utilize his prospect, as evidenced by his comments following Merrill’s issued suspension late in 2011: “He's committed to Michigan and we support that 100 percent."
There is no doubt, however, that when Merrill does eventually decide to make the jump to the pros, fans and Lamoriello alike will be thrilled to have this controversial young man's incredible potential in the Devils organization.