2020 NHL Draft Profile: Dawson Mercer

Yesterday we began our 2020 draft profile series with WHL forward Connor Zary. Today, let’s discuss another young forward the Blackhawks might consider with the 17th overall selection.

Dawson Mercer

Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)
6-0, 179 pounds

Ranked #12 by ISS HOCKEY
Ranked #17 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #13 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #10 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #13 by TSN/McKenzie

From Corey Pronman (The Athletic):

Overall: #11 prospect
Skating: 50
Puck Skills: 60
Physical Game: 50
Hockey Sense: 60

Mercer followed up an impressive 17-year-old season with a better 18-year-old one, as a top player in the QMJHL and a member of Canada’s U20 team. Mercer is a versatile player. Offensively, he’s an exciting player. He has high-end skill with the soft hands and creativity to beat a lot of defenders. He has the quick-twitch in his hands to be unpredictable and make a lot of great plays in tight areas. He’s a very smart player who moves the puck well inside the zone, finding seams and looking off defenders like a pro. Mercer can also score from a distance if given space, but I think his playmaking is more impressive. He’s a competitive two-way center who can be effective in a lot of situations. He plays in the interior third of the ice a lot and can kill penalties. His main drawbacks are his average feet and lack of NHL caliber explosiveness as well as the minor fact of how he slowed down following a trade to Chicoutimi.

Philippe Boucher, GM of the Drummondville Voltigeurs, on Mercer: “He has a lot of skill. He understands the game very well, he can play center or wing, he’s a very well-rounded two-way player.

From LastWordOnHockey.com:

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.

Offensive Game
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.

Defensive Game
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.

Mock Drafts

Pronman: #17**
Peters: #15

12 thoughts on “2020 NHL Draft Profile: Dawson Mercer

  • September 29, 2020 at 7:40 am

    Seems to be decent top 6 prospect who is already developing his defensive game, which should shorten his window to being Nhl ready if bulking up doesn’t impede him other ways.

  • September 29, 2020 at 10:06 am

    Man, it sure was a lot easier last year when the Hawks could pick anyone not named Hughes or Kakko. Now it’s looking into the basket with all the kinda cute puppies that half the league rejected.

    Recent history tells us that one or two of these mid-first round selections will be a very good player and the rest of them not so much. Projecting what a player will become a few years down the road is a very inexact science, which is to say it is more luck than prescience to pluck Dylan Larkin at #15 after Perlini and Honka were off the board.

  • September 29, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Further to that Ebony here’s a great stat – the TBL forward group that just won the Cup didn’t have one first round selection among them ( not including Stamkos obviously)

    Point a 3rd rounder Kucherov a 2nd and on it goes

    For those posters who thought the Hawks screwed themselves by winning a round in the playoffs and slipping from #9 or so to #17 in the first round think about that

    I know TBL has first rounders am9ng their D and in goal but this is just more evidence that you don’t need to top 10 pick to get an All Star forward

  • September 29, 2020 at 11:55 am

    Read an interview Powers had with Mark Kelley discussing possible CHI first round choices and it seemed to me reading between the lines that he is most enthusiastic about Holloway although he said nice things about all the candidates Powers asked him about including Mercer

  • September 29, 2020 at 5:46 pm

    Nice articles on these draft players.

  • September 29, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    @ THE WRAPAROUND Just a couple of things… how can picking 17 be better than picking 9?

    Tampa traded Jonathan Drouin the 3rd overall pick in 2013 for one of Tampas
    Best defenseman Mikhail Sergachev who was Montreals 9th overall pick in 2016.

    Top 10 picks are never a bad thing…think about it.

  • September 29, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    Question which of these rankings are usually correct/more correct more often. Which ones should I go by more.

    Ranked #15 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
    Ranked #12 by ISS HOCKEY
    Ranked #17 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
    Ranked #13 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
    Ranked #10 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
    Ranked #13 by TSN/McKenzie

    This is a deep draft so we can get lucky and get a player at 17 or 14/21 that we would normally get 8-12 area. usually I would always want the top 5/10 draft then the 19.

    Teravainen is a gem from that area and that was not? a deep draft. We stole one there. Were lucky that this is a deep draft and it might be similar player.

    I want another top 5 skill draft player so if were F ing the 12 seed again we better be picking that area.

  • September 29, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    I listed other day the many good players we got from 2nd round that was the bulk of the dynasty rosters. We got a lot of our good players from 2nd round.

    We still needed those 1st round players we got though. top 3/5/10 and a couple? from 17-30.

  • September 29, 2020 at 8:56 pm

    Congrats to TBL for finally getting it done.
    Was starting to wonder…..

    TBL GM deserves ton of praise for not panicking and trading away key people after getting swept (Right, idiot Bowman?), but instead recognizing what was needed (grit and toughness) and going out and getting it.

    Good for them.

  • September 29, 2020 at 9:21 pm

    Timing makes a difference WAS STL and TB were deeper teams on the yr/s before they finally each won. Think thats why people started to wonder on each of those teams. These are 3 of the top teams from the decade but none of them could get by/or even to how good BOS LA CHI were during the decade.

    Timing they are top teams now but there are not as many top teams now and none are as deep/good as the teams from 2008-2015 were.

    Would teams like NAS/other be the next to seem out and then win now.

  • September 29, 2020 at 11:07 pm

    @Stape – did I say picking #17 was better than picking 9th? Did I say picking in the top 10 was not a good thing?

    What I did say was that TBL had 1st round choices on D (like Sergachev and Hedman) and in goal (like Vasilevsky) but no 1st round choices amongst the FWs other than Stamkos who played about 2 minutes of the entire final

    I think that is pretty remarkable speaks to the fact that picking #17 instrad of #9 does not doom the Hawks to any particular fate – they can still have success despite falling 8 spots in the draft

    The larger point remains that the experience the Hawks young players got beating EDM and playing in the first round more than makes up for the drop from 9 to 17 which in this draft particularly is not a significant drop

  • September 30, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    I think the point is that if you can get guys like Point or Kucherov outside of the first round, the Hawks and Bowman’s tendency to throw away 2nd and 3rd round picks to just give away Danault or get back Shaw is setting the frachise back potentially years.

    Because eventually someone drafted in those rounds blossoms into a front line player. But you can’t win if you give away all of your tickets for a pretzel and a slurpee.

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