In preparation for the NHL Draft on June 25, Die by the Blade will profile potential Buffalo Sabres Draft Picks. This feature will run daily with one or two players profiled each day.
6'-3" 200 lbs.
Hometown: Oklahoma City, OK
Date of Birth: February 3, 1992
Stats: 47 GP, 5 G, 25 A, 30 PTS 14 PIM
The Good - Another big, skilled defenseman. Merrill is not the best in any one area but he does everything well. He is a smart player and has matured well beyond in his age, with the way he thinks the game. He is not the fastest skater but he doesn't get beat in his own zone very often. He plays the game positionally and he uses his reach as an asset.
The Bad - He seems reluctant to use his size against opposing forwards. He uses position and smarts instead of raw power despite his large 6'3" frame. He will need to work on his physical game and become more willing to play that style if he will be successful in the NHL.
What They Are Saying
"He's very intelligent on both sides of the puck, makes good decisions, and defensively is good about keeping himself in good position. There are a lot of things to appreciate about his game, including his size and his dedication in the weight room."
Why The Sabres Might Pick Him
He plays a very smart game and Lindy Ruff likes smart players. Ruff would love to have a guy on the blueline that "gets it" without being sent to the press box on occasion (ie. Chris Butler and Andrej Sekera). He has good size and is a decent (although, not great) skater.
Why The Sabres Might Pass on Him
The Sabres have a plethora of defensive prospects and he could get lost in the crowd. He is not ready to make the jump immediately and could become just another prospect because he doesn't stand out in any one area.