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Blackhawks’ No. 17 pick in 2020 NHL Draft: Making case for Dawson Mercer

The Chicoutimi Saguenéens forward models his two-way game after four-time Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron.

2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Second City Hockey staff will profile 10 players leading up to the 2020 NHL Draft, which will start Oct. 6, the Blackhawks could have the opportunity to select at No. 17 overall.

Dawson Mercer has come a long way.

The Bay Roberts, Newfoundland native started his draft year on a hot start with at least a point in all but one game for the Drummondville Voltigeurs in his third QMJHL season. He continued his strong play, and had three points (two goals, one assist) in two games with Team QMJHL against Team Russia during the QMJHL portion of the Canada Russia Series in November.

Mark Hunter, who led Canada’s under-20 World Junior Championship management group, couldn’t ignore Mercer. The forward scored 42 points (18 goals, 24 assists) in only 26 games for Drummondville, and made Canada’s WJC team despite not being invited to the summer evaluation camp. He was the first Newfoundland player in a decade to play for Canada at World Juniors.

Mercer scored no points and averaged 7:18 of ice time in seven games to help Canada win WJC gold in the Czech Republic. The day after winning gold, he was traded to the Chicoutimi Saguenéens for three first-round and two second-round picks. He scored 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 16 games, meaning his production dropped from 1.62 points-per-game with Drummondville to 1.13 points-per-game with Chicoutimi.

As Mercer said in the video above, he models his game after Bruins center and four-time Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron, who was a second-round pick in 2003.

Mercer, who is a competitive two-way player that has played center and wing, uses his high-end skill and soft hands to generate offense. He often makes plays in tight areas and is able to draw a defender in before finding an open teammate for a scoring chance. He’s more of a playmaker than a shooter, but he does have a pretty good wrist shot.

Mercer might be listed at 6 foot and 179 pounds, but he plays bigger than his frame. He wins 50-50 battles, kills penalties and is a strong backchecker.

The main downside in his game is not having top-end speed and explosiveness with his skating. He has a good stride, but he lacks the acceleration needed to pull away from defenders in open space. It’s a reason why some project him to be a winger in the NHL rather than a center.

“Dawson Mercer has played a little center, real good two-way game,” Blackhawks Vice President of Amateur Scouting Mark Kelley said on Blackhawks Talk Podcast. “He has a very good skill set ... very responsible defensively.”

According to Hockey-Reference, there have only been 29 Newfoundland-born NHL players with Clark Bishop, a center, the only active one. He played 25 games the past two seasons for the Hurricanes.

Mitch Brown’s Tracking Project
Dobber Prospects

PNHLe is a value that projects a prospect’s point potential at the NHL level.It takes into consideration point production (i.e., points-per-game), the league a prospect plays in, their age and the position they play.You can read more about the methodology behind PNHLe here.

Organizational fit

The Blackhawks would have Mercer play his fourth season in the QMJHL before he turns pro. He could benefit from a season in the AHL to develop more before trying to crack Chicago’s NHL roster in 2022.

Before his draft year, Mercer spent two seasons as teammates with Blackhawks defenseman prospect Nicolas Beaudin with Drummondville.

Basics

Position: Center/Right wing

Age: 18 (Oct. 27, 2001)

Hometown: Bay Roberts, New Foundland

Height: 6 foot

Weight: 179 pounds

Shoots: Right

Team: Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)

Draft rankings

NHL Central Scouting (NHL): No. 10 North American skater

Elite Prospects: No. 15

Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): No. 19

Corey Pronman (The Athletic): No. 11

Cam Robinson (Dobber Prospects): No. 13

Craig Button (TSN): No. 17