The Devils will dress three rookie defensemen for tonight’s preseason game against the Islanders with Eric Gelinas Jon Merrill and Damon Severson in the lineup along with veteran blue liners Bryce Salvador Marek Zidlicky and Andy Greene.

This will be the second game of the preseason for Gelinas and he played in an NHL regular season game at the end of 2012-13 but it will be the first NHL game of any kind for Merrill 21 and Severson 19.

The Devils said they would give their young defensemen a good look in training camp and they’re following through on that.

“That was the plan going into camp and it’s up to those guys to separate themselves and make the most of their opportunity” DeBoer said.

There’s been more focus on Merrill Gelinas 22 and Urbom 22 because they are a little older but DeBoer said Severson is still in the mix of those young defensemen who will get a shot to earn an NHL job.

“I think (GM) Lou (Lamoriello) and I both pride ourselves on the fact that this is a merit-based organization and the kid’s playing tonight based on merit and how he’s played in training camp” DeBoer said.

Severson the Devils’ 2012 second-round draft pick is excited to get a chance to show what he can do.

“It’s come finally and I’ll hopefully just play my game out there and see what happens” he said.

Severson wasn’t sure when he came to camp if he’d get a chance in an NHL exhibition game.

“You don’t want to expect anything because your expectations will be too high or two low and you just never know but obviously you come to came and you want to get into some games and you want to show the coaching staff and Lou what you’ve got” he said. “That was my goal coming in and now finally I get a chance.”

Severson is coming off a strong junior season with Kelowna in the WHL in which he put up 10 goals and 42 assists in 71 games. He also got in two AHL with Albany at the end of the 2012-13 season and registered a pair of assists.

When I asked DeBoer what Severson’s strengths’ are he replied “I think the better question is ‘What are his weaknesses?’”

“There’s not many” DeBoer said. “He really does a little bit of everything well. He’s a big body (6-2 195) he’s got an physical edge to him. He handles the puck well he moves it well he can shoot it. For me he does a little bit of everything so it’s a nice package.”