According to a Devils' press release and coach John Hynes, forward Jordin Tootoo and defenseman Jon Merrill are both done for the season.
Tootoo, who has become a fixture on the Devils' 4th line, has undergone surgery to repair in sheath covering tendon in his right wrist. His injury was suffered on March 10th's win over the San Jose Sharks on the Devils' successful California trip. Over the last two seasons in New Jersey Tootoo has emerged as a fan favorite with his willingness to stick up for teammates, and goal-scoring while paired with Mike Cammalleri last year. While having 15 points (including 10 goals) in 68 games last year, Tootoo's production took a hit and he registered only 9 points and 4 goals in 66 games this year while on the team's 4th line.
Merrill, who Hynes described as "still banged up", will likely miss the rest of the season as well with an upper body injury. Although in and out of the lineup for various reasons during the year, Merrill had a less than spectacular 3rd year and end to the season with his injury. While playing in 48 games, Merrill was prone to defensive mistakes and registered only 5 points. While he isn't looked on to provide offense from the back-end, his defense has been suspect. His -15 +/- is 4th worst on the team,
Impact on New Jersey and the Future
Although both players were important peices of New Jersey's team to start the year, both took significant steps back based on their performance in 2014-2015. Tootoo, who was re-signed by Lou in one of his last moves as GM, has been underwhelming this year and with an expiring contract, will leave Shero with a tough decision this offseason.
On the other hand, Merrill, who similar to Tootoo, under-performed, will be a restricted free agent this offseason. Coming into the year many expected Merrill to secure a top-4 role on defense and hopefully establish himself as a fixture long-term. However, inconsistent play and a lack of offense may put his future in question. This injury may give him a fresh start for training camp next year and will hopefully bring an improved player out in Merrill.
How did you view the play of Merrill and Tootoo this year when healthy? Do you want both to return and be given another shot? Did the injuries hurt the Devils down the stretch in terms of a playoff berth? Let us know your thoughts and thanks for reading!