Dawson Mercer is fast going from a hockey player who is worth a look to one who deserves your undivided attention.
The 18-year-old from Bay Roberts, a centre for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Drummondville Voltigeurs, is listed 20th in Sportsnet’s November rankings of prospects for the 2020 National Hockey League Entry Draft.
That’s the highest ranking given to Mercer by any of the media outlets and online sites that devote themselves to draft predictions, and it’s confirmation of the Newfoundlander’s recently gained reputation as a “riser,” a player moving into more prominence.
In late summer/early fall rankings put out by nhl.com and The Hockey News, Mercer wasn’t even listed among the 31 players they felt would go in the first round of the draft. Central Scouting, the NHL’s own amateur scouting arm, originally had him graded as a “B’ prospect, or one who would go in the second or third round of next June’s draft. But in early October, that was revised and Central Scouting upgraded Mercer to an ‘A”-graded prospect, or one they felt was deserving of a first-round selection.
Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings, where they assign players specific rankings, are due out in January.
Two respected online rankers — McKeen’s Hockey and Future Considerations — agree with Central Scouting’s first-round assessment for Mercer, putting him 31st and 23rd on their respective lists.
Bob McKenzie didn’t have Mercer among his early-season top 20 for the draft, findings based on the observations of scouts, and Craig Button, McKenzie’s TSN colleague not only left Mercer out his top 31 in September, he didn’t event list him in his honourable mentions.
But that view quickly changed.
“Mercer wasn’t in the early TSN Hockey rankings, but he will be once the next editions are out,” wrote Button in a prospects update just a couple of weeks ago. “Mercer is proving he can score in multiple ways and play with a real hunger and determination.”
And now comes the Sportsnet rankings, authored by junior hockey junkie Sam Cosentino, who notes Mercer’s scoring success in third QMJHL season comes on a Drummondville that has lost most of its top scorers from last season.
“Out to prove his success from a year ago was more individually driven than it was team driven. Has a good motor with the speed to play today’s game,” wrote Cosentino.
Mercer had 30 goals and 64 points as the youngest player among Voltigeurs regulars in 2018-19, but Drummondville has lost a load of players from last season’s roster, including NHL first-rounders Joe Veleno (Detroit) and Nicolas Beaudoin (Chicago), who have both turned pro; Max Comtois, who is with the Anaheim Ducks and two-year captain Nicolas Guay, traded to the Saint John Sea Dogs.
But Mercer has thrived despite the loss of surrounding talent. He leads the Voltigeurs with 16 goals and 31 points in 19 games, which translates into more than 50 goals and 100 points over a full season.
However, Mercer won’t be playing a full schedule of games for Drummondville in 2019-20. On Thursday, he received a six-game suspension from the QMJHL for a hit to the head of an opponent in a match last weekend..
That judgement puts a damper on a week in which Mercer was a standout for a QMJHL all-star team in the first two games of the CIBC Canada-Russia Series. He had a goal in each contest, added an assist and was his team’s player of the game in the opening matchup in Saint John, N.B., on Monday.