Each day over the next 10 days leading up to the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, held on Oct. 6–7, The Rink will be taking a look at draft prospects who could be available when the Chicago Blackhawks announce their selection with the 17th overall pick. We will group the players by position, starting with forwards.
Next in the series of prospect profiles is Canadian center Dawson Mercer.
2019–20 Team: Drummondville / Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
Date of Birth: Oct. 27, 2001
Place of Birth: Carbonear, NL, Canada
Height: 6 feet
Weight: 180 pounds
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 10 (North American Skaters)
NHL Central Scouting Midterm Ranking: 6 (North American Skaters)
NHL Comparable: Tanner Pearson
Dawson Mercer is an interesting case among the prospects available in this range of the first round. His offensive abilities project well for the pro game, but his lack of consistency at times has been cause for concern, dropping him down the rankings a bit throughout the season.
As mentioned, Mercer possesses an impressive and diverse offensive tool bag. Mercer is very much a dual-threat type of player in the offensive end. He owns a dangerous shot thanks to a quick release with quality power. Though his accuracy is not elite, Mercer definitely knows how to put the puck in the net.
Mercer also willingly takes advantage of the respect his shot earns in order to set up his teammates, as he loves faking a shot to fool defenders and goaltenders before sliding the puck to a waiting comrade. Mercer’s strong vision helps him find others even in the midst of traffic.
Mercer boasts quality skating abilities with a quick first step and above-average agility. Though not an elite speedster, his stride can be deceptive, giving him the separation needed to make plays.
Defensively, Mercer is generally sound and can be relied upon in a number of situations including the penalty kill. He anticipates plays well, which helps him get into passing and shooting lanes to disrupt the opposition.
Implications for the Blackhawks
As has been the case for other prospects previously featured, where Mercer will be selected is really anyone’s guess. He very well could go as high as the 12 range, but could also drop to closer to 20 as well. Should Mercer be available at 17, he would be a nice addition to Chicago’s prospect pool, as he would give them a higher-end offensive talent.
Mercer will need more time to work on being a more consistent player, both with and without the puck. His decision-making ability needs refining, and like any young player, can also put on some more muscle as well to be even more effective from a physical standpoint. Mercer will likely spend at least one more year in the QMJHL before making the jump to the pro game, where he would then benefit from some time in the AHL. Do not expect to see Mercer on NHL ice regularly until at least 2022–23.
Mercer certainly has the raw talent to develop into a top-six point producer, but it would probably be more realistic to expect him to become a well-rounded middle-six option. Though listed as a center, he has spent a lot of time playing on the wing, which is likely where his long-term future will be. Compared to some other players within this range, Mercer is viewed as a bit of a safer bet, as his floor would likely be a depth player capable of chipping in at both ends of the ice.
What others are saying
“Mercer is an accurate passer and can make tape-to-tape passes in one motion. He owns soft hands and is a confident passer, not only for his body language and stickwork, but also for the areas he tries to feed pucks through. Mercer does not look for the easy way out and will gladly defer to his elite shot if a passing lane is clogged. This situation likely causes many problems for opposing QMJHL tacticians since Mercer’s as dangerous a shooter as he is a playmaker. He owns a quick first step that he takes with decisiveness, so expect time and space for him once he’s heading north. Mercer owns a wide but quick stride that helps him finish first in most of his foot races. He also is tough to knock off the puck and he can be shifty and elusive in tight spaces, especially behind or near the net. The defensive component to Mercer’s game is quite effective. He not only kills penalties with a strong desire to counterattack, but Mercer also patrols the neutral zone and picks off a lot of passes. His body and stick react to the puck’s every move, which help him get in the way of d-to-d or seam passes.”
“His shooting accuracy can be shaky at times, he is inconsistent with his puck control and occasionally Mercer will make bad decisions with the puck when traffic is bearing down on him. While he has a few flaws in his game, he has a lot of promise. His edges are strong and he can weave around traffic in transition. Mercer always seems to find open ice in the offensive zone and is a crisp passer.”