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The 2020 NHL Draft is scheduled for October 6 and 7, conducted remotely. The Calgary Flames have a first round selection and will pick 19th overall. In advance of the draft, we’ll be looking at some contenders to be selected at 19th.

Dawson Mercer is a right-handed product of Newfoundland who has a good chance to go in the top 15 of this draft. However, if he slips to the Flames, they’d be hard-pressed to ignore his well-rounded game.

Scouting Report

Mercer oozes hockey sense and understanding for the game. Much like the Flames’ Elias Lindholm, Mercer has the ability to shift seamlessly between playing centre and the wing. And, also like Lindholm, Mercer is a fixture on both his teams’ power play and penalty-killing units.

Boasting a solid 6’0″, 180-pound frame, Mercer can hold his own physically. He was deemed a strong enough player as a first-time draft-eligible prospect to make the cut for Canada’s World Junior team this past December, an admirable feat for a player of his age. He played somewhat infrequently, taking fourth-line energy shifts but still snagging a gold medal by the end of the tournament.

Mercer was a fixture for the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL between 2017 and 2020 and was a huge part of the team’s success in his first two seasons with the club. He took on a central role with the Voltigeurs this year after the departure of key players Joe Veleno, Olivier Rodrigue, Pierre-Oliver Joseph, and Maxime Comtois, finding a new gear offensively with a 1.62 P/GP rate (seventh-highest in the league) in his games with the Voltigeurs.

After being traded to the high-flying Chicoutimi Sangueneens during the 2019–20 season, Mercer saw his point totals dip slightly but remained extremely effective in all situations. His season was cut short after he suffered a wrist injury in February; he’s back playing with Chicoutimi now that the 2020–21 season is underway, and he recorded two goals in the season-opener last week.

Steve Kournianos made positive mention of Mercer’s complete game over at The Draft Analyst:

Although he plays center and wing (and looks like a natural at both), I don’t see any major flaws in Mercer’s game. He is always around the puck. And when he’s not, Mercer’s always in the right place to wait for it. […] 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. […] 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.

Mike Sanderson of McKeen’s Hockey broke down Mercer’s performance at the World Juniors here (note the paywall): 

While Mercer was a bottom-six player for the golden Canadian squad, he made the team by being his useful self – a strong two-way winger who is responsible with the puck and without it. Mercer is a coach’s dream and a fan favourite with his attention to detail and his lunchpail attitude. […] Mercer has seen his game jump to another level this season. He has the innate ability to generate chemistry with any forwards he’s playing with and demonstrates a strong counter-attack punch in the neutral zone. There are no weaknesses to Mercer’s game….

Good offense? Check. Good defense? Check. Versatile, and a right-handed shot? Double check.

 

The numbers

Mercer scored 18 goals and 42 points in 26 games with Drummondville last season before being traded to Chicoutimi on Jan. 6, 2020. After the move, Mercer scored six goals and 18 points in 16 games before his season ended due to injury.

Mercer scored six goals and 15 assists on the power play last season; he also chipped in two goals and three assists while playing shorthanded. He also won 52% of his 786 face-offs last year.

At the 2020 World Juniors, Mercer was held pointless but played all seven games en route to capturing the championship for Canada.

Availability and fit

The Flames don’t have many right-handed forwards at the moment. After Lindholm and Derek Ryan, the Flames’ next-best right-handed forward is probably Dmitry Zavgorodniy, a diminutive winger with exactly two professional hockey games under his belt. Getting a guy like Mercer in the draft who can play centre and right wing would be an absolute dream for the Flames.

Still, Mercer would definitely have to drop a little bit to reach the Flames at 19th. ISS’ rankings have him 12th; TSN’s Craig Button and The Athletic’s Corey Pronman both have him going 17th. Finally, in a bit of unusual consensus, Bob McKenzie, Sam Cosentino McKeen’s, Dobber Prospects, and FC Hockey all have Mercer slotted in at 13th on their lists.

2020 First Round Targets

Braden Schneider | Kaiden Guhle | Seth Jarvis | Connor Zary | Jacob Perreault | Noel Gunler | Lukas Reichel | Dylan Holloway | Hendrix Lapierre | Jan Myšák | Jake Neighbours | Mavrik Bourque | Ozzy Wiesblatt | John-Jason Peterka | Yaroslav Askarov | Tyson Foerster | Helge Grans | Rodion Amirov | William Wallinder | Justin Barron | Ridly Greig