U-M defensive recruit Jon Merrill is currently playing in the World Under-18 Championship with Team USA along with U-M forward recruit Luke Moffatt. USA will go for the gold medal Friday.
International Scouting Service European Scouting head Ross Maclean penned a column for TSN regarding the defensemen at the event and suggests that Merrill could see his draft stock boost.
At the beginning of the tournament Gudbranson had the inside edge as the potential top defender to be selected this year, battling it out with Windsor’s Cam Fowler, but the gap is closing. The play of Merrill, along with the struggles of the Gudbranson-led Canadian team, may have catapulted Merrill into that coveted position and certainly into the overall debate.
Coming into the tournament many even felt Forbort would likely be ranked and selected ahead of Merrill, and even though Forbort has looked strong, the abilities that Merrill has showcased so far during this tournament have pushed him ahead in the eyes of many scouting circles. Merrill is a tall and lanky player with a lot of room to build on his frame. He has tremendous speed and has extremely good intelligence with and around the puck. Merrill has been the kingpin of the US’s powerplay and quarterbacks it tremendously well.
Over at McKeen’s, they did a Q&A with Merrill. On committing to Michigan…
I really spoke to no other schools besides Michigan. I knew that was where I wanted to go from the beginning. So, it was easy for me in the recruiting process. I knew that’s where I’ve always wanted to go. So, when it started to get into where I wanted to go, it was easy. I just said right away, “I’m in.” “If you want me, I’m in.”
And my favorite response to a question…on going the college route instead of major junior…
I think it’s the best of both worlds, in my opinion. I think a lot of guys make the argument that the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) is the most similar to the NHL in style of play, and you play a lot of games, and things like that, but you’ve got to look at it from my perspective. I’m 18 years old. If I went and played in the CHL, there’s 15 and 16-year-olds, 17-year-olds, in the league. There’s top-end 18 and 19-year-old guys, too, but if you go to college, everyone’s older than you. I’m a freshman in a bigger, stronger, faster game, and you get up for every game, because you only play 35, 40 games, or whatever it is. Every game is a big game. Whereas in the CHL, you’re playing in Sudbury on a Tuesday night, and how do you get up for that, you know?
Ouch! Sorry, Sudbury, but I laughed. If only the NCAA marketing gurus would jump on that quote to sway kids to college hockey… “College Hockey: Because who wants to play in Sudbury on a Tuesday night?”
You can read the full interview here.