The New Jersey Devils have made a few interesting transactions today, moving Sami Vatanen to injured reserve while recalling Nick Merkley. Vatanen of course is the subject of many trade rumors at the moment, but remains out with a bruised leg. His IR stint is retroactive to February 1st, meaning he can be activated at any point.
Merkley, 22, was acquired as part of the Taylor Hall trade earlier this year and has played exceptionally well for the Binghamton Devils. In 21 games with the AHL team he has seven goals and 18 points, earning a call-up to the NHL. The 30th overall pick in 2015, Merkley has just a single NHL game under his belt and has a lot to prove still.
Vatanen’s injury still doesn’t seem extremely serious, making his absence from the lineup a potential bonus for any acquiring team. The Devils also scratched Hall for several games before eventually trading him, though that was to prevent injury not avoid further complications.
While Kevin Bahl may have been discussed with more hope after the deal with the Arizona Coyotes was made, Merkley still represents a potential impact player for the Devils. If he’s given the opportunity to play an offensive role at the NHL level perhaps he can fulfill some of that promise he showed as a junior player. If he does, it will make for an interesting negotiation in the summer. Merkley is currently scheduled to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season after his entry-level deal expires.