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Devils' prospect Merrill makes pro debut @NHL

New Jersey defense prospect Jon Merrill made his professional debut with the Albany Devils of the AHL on Friday after signing a three-year, entry-level contract earlier in the week.

Merrill, New Jersey's second-round pick (No. 38) in 2010, had an assist and was plus-2 as Albany beat Hershey 5-3. He will stay with Albany for the rest of the season after also signing an amateur tryout contract with the AHL team.

The 21-year-old, New Jersey's top defensive prospect, had two goals, 11 points and 14 penalty minutes in 21 games for the University of Michigan; the Wolverines' season ended Sunday when they lost to Notre Dame in the CCHA title game. Merrill missed the first half of the season with a fractured vertebra sustained in an exhibition game Oct. 9. He returned to the lineup Jan. 4.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder was a CCHA Rookie of the Year finalist in 2010-11 after topping all Michigan defensemen with 18 assists and 25 points. In 82 collegiate games, Merrill had 11 goals and 47 points.

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