Bruins In The System – Dawson Mercer
In this series highlighting up and coming Bruins prospects, part 5 will feature 2020 12th overall pick Dawson Mercer. For previous articles in this series featuring Joe Veleno, Victor Soderstrom, Samuel Poulin and Jakob Pelletier, please visit the Bruins NEFHL team page.
The New Jersey Devils were lucky enough to have Dawson Mercer drop to them for the 18th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, though it’s hard to argue with anyone’s picks up to that point. Outside of the top 4-5 players, the rest of the field was expected to be a toss up, with expert rankings varying and rarely coming to a consensus. Mercer was high on the Bruin’s list sitting at the 12th selection and were happy to see him available. The native of Bay Roberts, Newfoundland has progressed quite nicely since his rookie season in 2017-18 playing for the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the QMJHL. In his inaugural campaign, he scored 11 goals for 26 points in 61 games, but with limited ice time. The following year he absolutely exploded for 30 goals and nearly hit a point per game as a 17 year old. From there, he has blossomed into a consistent player at both ends of the ice, seeing PP and PK minutes while being placed in a leadership role. The past 2 seasons were affected by COVID and isolation due to travel for international play, but he’s hit clips of 1.43 points per game in 2019-2020, and 1.56 PPG last season. He would have likely eclipsed 100 points in each of the past 2 seasons had it not been for the pandemic.
I’ll touch on Mercer’s offense a little later, but I think his strongpoint is clearly on defense. He plays a very poised and responsible game in his own zone and rarely is caught out of position. His speed is above average, especially his first few steps, and is hard to beat 1 on 1. His stick is always active and had it on display in a preseason game last week against the New York Rangers. After intercepting a pass, he hopped on his horse and flew down the ice on a clear breakaway before disarming Huska to put his team up big.
Offensively, Mercer’s hockey IQ is clearly on display consistently, though seems more confident with the puck rather than without. He’s got great hands, great stickhandling and pushes the play forward: he isn’t satisfied waiting for a play to materialize. He’s aggressive and tenacious, often leading to the puck finding his stick and frustrating defenders. As mentioned, his speed is above average but could use some work on his edges. His shot accuracy could use a bit of work as well. He can play a physical game, but may need to add a few pounds.
His style is often compared to Jonathan Toews, though with less of an offensive punch. At his maximum potential, Mercer could develop into a consistent top six player getting prime PK minutes, along with time on the power-play. He should be given leadership responsibilities as well as he continues to mature and lead his team by example. The Bruins are very excited to see Mercer’s progression from here.