The Vegas Golden Knights Took Jon Merrill In The Expansion Draft, And Devils Fans (Semi-Unfairly) Rejoiced
In a strange, excessively fleeting way, I actually feel bad for Jon Merrill. I'm not going to pretend that I wasn't relieved to learn that he was Vegas' selection from the grab bag of barely mediocre misfits that the New Jersey Devils left unprotected. That said, those acting like the optimal scenario was to lose a young defensemen who unquestionably improved (though that is saying very, very little) throughout the course of a season in which he wasn't even in the 'Top 3' of blue line liabilities are simply stuck in the past. I'd be lying if I said my initial reaction to finding out the guy who spent his sophomore and junior seasons getting put on a leash and toe-dragged around his own zone on seemingly nightly walks was no longer with New Jersey was one of disappointment. However, I'm self aware enough to know that's not as much of an indictment of his late season performance as much as it is an indictment of how quickly my PTSD was triggered every time he touched the puck.
The truth of the matter is that Jon Merrill turned himself into a punching bag for pissed off fans (myself occasionally included) that would rather continue to beat the barely breathing horse no matter how many signs of life it started to show. In essence, he was the guy that gets caught cheating towards the beginning of the relationship and couldn't recover despite changing his ways for the better. Every little thing he did wrong in a Devils uniform was going to get eviscerated simply because it reminded people of the big things he used to do wrong on a regular basis.
For that reason, a separation was probably necessary. However, let's not go dancing in the streets because defenseless team lost a 25 year old who appeared to potentially be coming around. In no way am I saying that a decent third pairing defenseman (at best) was a foundational piece of the rebuild, but he is unquestionably a brick that now needs replacing. I'm glad that brick wasn't named Beau Bennett, but I would have been slightly happier if it had carried a $5 million dollar cap for the next two seasons...if you catch my drift.