Devils close to inking top prospect Jon Merrill

It looks like Jon Merrill is ready to begin his pro career. The 2010 second-round pick has decided to leave the University of Michigan and is expected to ink a three-year entry-level deal, according to the Bergen Record.

“There is nothing official yet,” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello cautioned in a Star-Ledger report. “We’ve talked and there is a good chance he’ll go into Albany, but there is nothing right now.”

If he’s signed, the deal won’t start until the 2013-14 campaign, but as Lamoriello indicated, Merrill will likely finish the season with AHL Albany on an amateur tryout contract.

The 21-year-old suffered a fractured vertebrae in his neck on Oct. 9, but he managed to return and record 11 points in 21 NCAA games as a junior.

He also served a lengthy suspension last season for breaking unspecified team rules.

Merrill might develop into a top-tier defenseman in the NHL who can contribute offensively.

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