The Arizona Coyotes signed Dylan Strome to an entry-level deal back in July and roughly two months later they have inked their other 2015 first round pick, per the team’s website.
Nick Merkley has agreed to a three-year entry-level contract with Arizona. He was taken with the 30th overall selection.
That draft pick originally belonged to the Chicago Blackhawks, but the Coyotes acquired it along with Klas Dahlbeck in exchange for Antoine Vermette on Feb. 28. Vermette won the Stanley Cup with Chicago before returning to the Coyotes this summer on a two-year, $7.5 million deal.
Merkley had 20 goals and 90 points in 72 games with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets last season. He scored another five goals and 27 points in 19 playoff games to help the Rockets win the Ed Chynoweth Cup. Kelowna went all the way to the Memorial Cup championship game before falling to the Oshawa Generals in overtime. Merkley recorded three goals and two assists in the tournament.
While Strome might make the Coyotes’ opening game roster, it would be more surprising if Merkley did the same. Still, he’s part of an impressive collection of forward prospects that Arizona has assembled in recent years. While Arizona’s offense was a big weakness last season, in a few years it might be the squad’s strength and Merkley could be a significant part of that.
Related: Coyotes sign Dahlbeck, acquired in Vermette trade
The Chicago Blackhawks have agreed to terms with defenseman Nolan Valleau on a two-year contract, the club announced today.
From the press release:
Valleau, 22, recorded 19 points (2G, 17A) in 39 regular-season games with Bowling Green of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association during his freshman campaign; he shared the team lead in assists and seventh among league defensemen in scoring. The Novi, Mich., native shared second on the team with seven power-play points (7A) and registered 37 blocked shots and a +3 plus/minus rating. He was named to the 2014-15 WCHA All-Rookie team.
As noted by CSN Chicago, Valleau will add “organizational depth” to the Blackhawks’ “blue line after trading away prospects Klas Dahlbeck and Stephen Johns.”
According to ESPN, Valleau was “among the unsigned invitees who caught people’s eyes” at Blackhawks prospect camp.
The Coyotes continued to lock in some of their younger prospects on Monday, agreeing to terms with defenseman Klas Dahlbeck and forward Jordan Martinook.
Per the club, Dahlbeck — acquired in the deadline deal for Antoine Vermette — has inked a one-year, two-way deal while Martinook’s is for two-years, and also a two-way.
Dahlbeck, 24, split last season between Arizona and Chicago, scoring four points in 23 games. At 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, he’s got good size and should compete for a spot on the Arizona blueline next season.
Martinook, 22, was the club’s second-round pick (58th overall) in 2012 and appeared in eight NHL games last year, spending most of the season with the club’s AHL affiliate.
Like Dahlbeck, Martinook should challenge for a roster spot next year; the Coyotes have said they’re going to “fast-track” some prospects to the NHL next season, meaning the likes of prized youngsters (Anthony Duclair, Max Domi, Henrik Samuelsson, Dylan Strome, Christian Dvorak) will compete next to some less-heralded talents (like Dahlbeck, Martinook, Phillip Samuelsson and Brendan Shinnimin.)
Antoine Vermette will make his series debut tonight when the Blackhawks play host to the Nashville Predators.
Vermette, who was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes for a first-round draft pick and defensive prospect Klas Dahlbeck at the trade deadline, was a healthy scratch for the first two games in Nashville.
The 32-year-old had three assists and a minus-2 rating in 19 games with the Blackhawks following the trade.
Andrew Desjardins, who has yet to play in the series, could also return to the lineup tonight.
Desjardins had two assists in 13 games with the Blackhawks after being acquired from the San Jose Sharks prior to the trade deadline.
By the looks of it, Antoine Vermette could be a healthy scratch for the Chicago Blackhawks when they open their first-round series versus the Predators tomorrow in Nashville.
From today’s practice:
From CSN Chicago:
Vermette has had a tough go in his time with the Blackhawks; he’s been moved around the lineup, from center to wing, and is still looking for his first goal with his new team. So as the Blackhawks prepare for Game 1 against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday, is Vermette on the outside looking in?
“We’ll see,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We know he’s got some experience there in the middle. Depth is something organizationally you need and some guys are ahead of other guys now based on performance. We’ve got to make decisions.”
An interesting development, to say the least. The ‘Hawks gave up a first-round draft pick and defensive prospect Klas Dahlbeck to get Vermette, a pending unrestricted free agent, from Arizona. That’s a lot to pay for a rental, only to make him a healthy scratch in the first game of the playoffs.
On the other hand, Vermette has no goals and just three assists in 19 games for the ‘Hawks. His possession numbers have also been poor.
“We always say it doesn’t matter how much money you make or who you are: your performance is going to dictate everything you get and everything you’re going to earn,” Quenneville said.