Wild 2022-23 Report Cards: Jon Merrill

The next defenseman on the report card list for the Minnesota Wild is Jon Merrill. The start of the season was a little delayed for Merrill as he was still recovering from offseason surgery. He missed four games before re-joining his teammates and while he wasn’t the offensive threat he’d been the year prior, his defensive stats took a step in the right direction as far as the regular season is concerned.

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However, just like his team, Merrill really struggled in the postseason and actually ended up getting pulled after Game 2. As most Wild fans probably want to forget their playoff woes by now, we’ll start with the regular season to determine a grade for Merrill.

Merrill’s Quiet Presence

Merrill is one of those players that typically goes unnoticed as he doesn’t contribute much offensively. He is what most would consider the traditional stay-at-home defenseman where he worries more about protecting his net than scoring goals. He played in 73 games this season, missing the first four due to offseason surgery, one due to illness, and the others as healthy scratches in favor of Alex Goligoski or Calen Addison.

Jon Merrill Minnesota Wild
Jon Merrill, Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In those 73 games, he recorded two goals and 10 assists for 12 points, a small drop from his 20 points last season. However, he did have an increase in penalty minutes, something the Wild really didn’t need any more of and will have to be watched out for next season. As far as his defensive stats go, they stayed quite similar from last season to this season. He blocked 107 shots that put him in the top five on the Wild’s roster for most blocks, and he also had 47 hits.

Merrill started being a healthy scratch in the latter half of the season when his game clearly started to struggle a bit. He seemed out of position a lot and just wasn’t playing up to his normal potential that Wild fans had become accustomed to. It’s unclear what caused this change as he seemed healthy but it bled into the postseason as well. Hopefully, he can figure it out before next season.

Merrill’s Lack of Postseason

Being pulled after just two games isn’t the greatest when it comes to the postseason but Merrill did have a couple of small bright spots before he ended up watching from the press box. The first was he continued to block shots, he had three in Game 1 and one in Game 2. The other bright spot revolved around his defensive partner, Brock Faber, who Merrill helped guide through his very first NHL postseason game.

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While there was some good, the bad outweighed it and was ultimately the reason Merrill didn’t play Games 3-6 as well as his injured teammate John Klingberg returning to the lineup. In those two games he did play, he had zero points, three turnovers, zero takeaways, and just one hit. Overall, not the greatest postseason performance but to be fair, the rest of his team struggled greatly too.

Jon Merrill Minnesota Wild
Jon Merrill, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

It’s hard to say if the Wild should’ve tried to put Merrill back in for Game 5 or 6 to see if it would’ve made a difference. However, they could’ve used more defense including blocked shots which he did provide. Hopefully, he can continue to do so next season and also have his game improve.

Merrill’s Grade

As far as the regular season goes, Merrill could’ve had more offense, but as stated before, he’s a stay-at-home defenseman and that position is not known for scoring. He wasn’t afraid to put his body in front of the puck and block everything he could which helped his grade. As far as the regular season goes, he would’ve earned an A but as his consistency dropped off, so did his grade. Overall he earned an A- for his defensive stats taking priority and trying to produce offense when he could.

As far as the postseason, that would be a B-. It seems low, but in the playoffs, players have to find that next step in their game, and unfortunately for Merrill, he did the opposite. While he did have some blocks and did help out Faber, he struggled to the point he was pulled. Obviously, the blame goes all around the team but he could’ve been better.

Related: Wild 2022-23 Report Cards: Calen Addison

As far as an overall grade for the entire season, Merrill earned a B. There’s always room for improvement and that’s what will be expected of him come next season. Hopefully, he can find a way to pull his game out of this slump and get back to the player he was prior. If he can do that, his grade will definitely be better next season and potentially the Wild will be too.