NHL Mock Draft 2020: Nashville Predators select Dawson Mercer with No. 11 pick
Nashville adds a dynamic, highly skilled winger to the prospect pool.
Welcome to SBNation NHL’s Mock Draft!
Eric and I tried to jointly run this year’s mock draft, with me acting as his assistant GM, but thanks to some typical draft-day shenanigans we didn’t really have much of a chance to trade up in the draft. The good news is that neither of us thought that would be a good idea unless a true slam-dunk presented itself, so nothing really changed. That’s enough of an introduction, so let’s get to the player we chose.
With the 11th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, On The Forecheck selects Dawson Mercer from the Chicoutimi Sagueneéns.
In Eric’s final draft ranking this year, he had Mercer as the tenth-best overall player in the draft, the ninth-best forward, and the fifth-best winger. On Mercer, Eric had this to say:
An elite-level player with the puck on the stick who can out-maneuver nearly any defender with a unique set of hands... May get caught being pushed off the puck more than others in this ranking but has above-average intelligence in all three zones... There are legitimate concerns about his skating but he can power through defenders when intentional with his entries.
I personally have watched a good bit of tape on Mercer as well and felt more than comfortable putting him as my 11th-best prospect on the board, for reference.
What did other scouting outlets have to say about Mercer, and where did they have him ranked?
NHL Central Scouting: 10th (NA Skaters)
Corey Pronman, The Athletic: 12th
ISS Hockey: 12th
McKeen’s Hockey: 13th
Future Considerations: 13th
Craig Button, TSN: 17th
Cam Robinson, Dobber Prospects: 13th
Elite Prospects: 15th
Scott Wheeler, The Athletic: 19th
By The Numbers
Mercer put up strong numbers for an absolutely loaded Drummondville squad in the 2018-19 season, mostly in a second-line role behind a pair of overagers and Joe Veleno (drafted 30th overall in 2019). With the departure of many of those names, Drummondville saw regression despite Mercer’s incredibly impressive growth.
The young forward ranked fourth in team scoring this past year, behind two overaged prospects and the draft-eligible Jacob Dion (projected to be a mid/late round pick). This doesn’t sound all that impressive, until you consider that Mercer played 37 fewer games for Drummondville and still holds that spot. His 1.6 points per game clip was best on the team and was only sniffed by overaged prospect Xavier Simoneau.
During the season, Mercer was shipped to another loaded roster in Chicoutimi and saw similar success there despite chemistry adjustments, scoring over a point per game. In total on the year, Mercer was third in points per game for prospects 18 and under, behind only Mavrik Borque (projected first-round pick) and Alexis Lafrenière. The young winger finished 12th overall in the league’s points-per-game scoring and projects to dominate next year playing alongside fellow elite prospect Hendrix Lapierre.
Mercer brings a rare combination of dazzling stickhandling and brilliant decision making on and off the puck. His shot is well above average, with a solid release and standout accuracy, but he really makes his money with his hands in tight. He projects as a goal-scoring two-way threat at the next level who can drive a line with his extremely balanced offensive toolkit, but he separates himself from his contemporaries of the same archetype (Connor Zary, Anton Lundell) by having the aforementioned standout puck skill.
His weak skating leaves me with a few questions, chiefly about how well he’d fit in an NHL that’s constantly getting faster, but the fact that he’s a good to great player in every other area makes up for that. He’s never going to be a rush dynamo or a guy who blows past multiple skaters, but he’s a player who will control pace, make the right play, and occasionally walk a defender en route to a beautiful goal.
I had Mercer as the 11th-best prospect in this draft in my most recent hierarchy, but I’ve had him as high as ninth, so he’d be a great value pick here. He’s an excellent addition to a Predators team looking for impact prospects to revitalize their aging roster, and even if he doesn’t pan out I could see him being a productive bottom-six winger because of his high hockey IQ.