Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Dawson Mercer.
The eighth overall pick of the 2017 QMJHL Draft, Dawson Mercer came out of the gates on fire for the Drummondville Voltigeurs. He put up 18 goals and 24 assists for 42 points in 26 games. He also played a leadership role for the team, serving as an alternate captain. With the Voltigeurs struggling his early results also made him a trade deadline target for the top teams in the QMJHL. He was moved to the Chicoutimi Sagueneens at the QMJHL Trade Deadline. Mercer put up six goals and 12 assists for 18 points in 16 games with his new team. Last season, Mercer put up 30 goals and 34 assists for 64 points in 68 games. He also added five goals and 11 assists for 16 points in 16 playoff games.
Mercer’s early-season scoring binge also helped him to earn a spot on Team Canada for the World Juniors. While he did not record a point in seven games, he played a bottom-line role and helped the team win a gold medal. Mercer scored two goals in five games playing for Team Canada Black at the 2017 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He scored two goals and an assist in two games during the CHL/Russia Super-Series.
Dawson Mercer Scouting Report
Centre/Right Wing — shoots Right
Born October 27th, 2001 — Bay Roberts, Newfoundland
Height 6’0″ — Weight 178 lbs [183 cm / 81 kg]
Mercer is a very good skater, who always keeps his feet moving and this helps him play a 200-foot game. He may not be the fastest player in the draft, but his speed is still well above average. The fact that he is smart with his positioning and his feet are always moving, help him to seem faster than he is. Mercer has excellent edgework and agility. This allows him to beat defenders in one-on-one situations. Mercer has excellent lower-body strength already. This gives him a powerful stride and he is able to fight through checks. He also wins battles on the boards and in front of the net. This area of his game should only improve as he matures and gets stronger.
Mercer has very good hands and can beat defenders in one-on-one situations. His speed and agility allow him to take a defender wide and cut back to the front of the net. He can score goals with an excellent wrist shot. If defenders back off to defend against his speed, he has the smarts to use the defenceman as a screen and put that wrist shot on net with a quick release. Mercer also has a very good snapshot, one-timer and backhand. His shots feature a quick release, which makes them even more effective. Mercer can also score goals in tight, with the quickness to pounce on rebounds and the hand-eye coordination to get deflections.
Mercer is quick on the forecheck, pressuring opposing defenders and creating turnovers. He is willing to play a physical game, getting involved in battles on the boards and establishing his position in front of the net. Mercer will improve this aspect of his game as he gets stronger. His stickhandling and puck protection skills are also good, helping Mercer to be effective in the cycle game. He also has good vision and passing skills. In extending the play, Mercer gives his teammates time to get open. When they do, he can make a quick move to create a passing lane and set them up for a scoring chance. He is also a smart player who often makes the right play with the puck. He can also play the role of playmaker when leading the rush.
Mercer is an effective defensive player as well. He is able to get back and support the defence down low. He works hard on the backcheck, bringing effective backpressure against the transition game and physical support down low against the cycle. Mercer has very good positioning and an active stick. This helps him to create turnovers and he is able to quickly transition them into offensive opportunities. His ability to cut down passing and shooting lanes has helped Mercer to be an effective penalty killer. Transitioning to centre this year, Mercer has shown some ability to win faceoffs but will need to continue to work on this aspect of his game.
Projection and Comparison
Mercer spent his first two years in the QMJHL mainly playing on the right wing. This season, he spent more time at centre and was especially effective there. He will need to continue to improve his skating and faceoff skills in order to remain in the middle of the ice but that is not impossible. In any event, he has the potential to be a top-six forward, capable of playing in all situations if he is able to meet his potential. His game is reminiscent of Jonathan Toews, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Dawson Mercer that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Dawson Mercer Main Photo:
HAMILTON, ON – JANUARY 16: Dawson Mercer #19 of Team Red skates during warm-up for the 2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game against Team White at FirstOntario Centre on January 16, 2020, in Hamilton, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)