Preface to Newfounland’s Next Top NHL Prospect
It’s sad, but I’ve never been to Newfoundland.
I don’t even have the slightest clue where Bay Roberts is, sure I just Googled it and maybe one of these days my family and I will make the trip over to the Rock. Nevertheless, I do know one thing Dawson Mercer is putting Bay Roberts on the map!
The highly skilled speedy center had a dominant performance in the CIBC Canada Russia Series.
Mercer was all over the puck, scored amazing goals and was a threat every time he stepped on the ice.
In a bizarre turn of events Mercer’s 2020 NHL Draft Ranking was changed earlier this season by Central Scouting.
I can’t really remember the last time that actually happened, I guess I’ll have to Google it, but that doesn’t really matter, everyone that has ever seen young Dawson Mercer play the game he loves knows right away how special he really is.
Dawson Mercer is next level.
Dawson Mercer is elite.
The first time I saw Mercer play was at the QMJHL Gatorade Challenge when he was 15. I was blown away. He was just outstanding!
I never do this, but here’s my scouting report on him from 2017.
Dawson Mercer 6” 155 (C/W)
Potentially the most underrated skilled fwd in the draft, dynamic speed does everything at top speed and is relentless in all three zones, needs to get stronger if he wants to play through the middle at the next level. Potential first line centermen in the league as early as 17.
Tons of similarities to Nathan Noel, Great knack to get to the net and he finds a way to be engaged every time he steps on the ice. When other guys were getting tired he kept coming, probably the most fit player at combine weekend, has a great engine that never quits.
Scoring winger/centermen can definitely score at least 15 to 20, but will need time to adapt to the physicality of the league, but if surrounded by other solid line mates could excel as early as next season.
I guess you could say the rest is history!
Dawson Mercer is Newfoundland’s Next NHL Prospect!
Newfoundland’s Next Top NHL Prospect
Dawson Mercer is the Rock’s next top NHL prospect.
The quiet well-spoken kid from Bay Roberts has quickly established himself as an elite player in the QMJHL and is on the radar to be a potential first round draft pick in June’s NHL Entry Draft.
Mercer is trying to embrace the journey while coping with all the attention, pressure and stress that comes with his NHL Draft year.
The Drummondville Voltigeurs offensive star continues to take great pride in his subtle beginnings in the game.
It’s evident that those early experiences in the game in his hometown have shaped the player and person.
Bay Roberts Beginnings
Dawson Mercer’s introduction to the game may have been similar to many other young Newfoundlander’s and Atlantic Canadians for that matter with one exception, his unique hockey mentors.
“Uncle Bennett or Uncle Bo as we call him and my Dad were the two main people in my life that really focused on my hockey,” Mercer said proudly.
“Away from the rink and obviously on the ice they were very influential. They always put in the extra time with us,” explained Mercer.
“My Uncle has his company “Br8k Away Hockey” and that’s what really kept us on the ice a lot over the season with less practices and games in Newfoundland.”
“He kept us in the swing of things which I feel really helped and obviously my dad put in the extra time work with him and helping coach and covering the little things at home.”
From the moment Dawson Mercer laced up the skates it was clear that he truly loved every aspect the game had to offer.
Passion for the game of hockey runs deep in the Mercer family, hockey may have been a way of life, but it wasn’t all consuming.
“We focused on not doing it too much, making sure I played extra sports growing up,” stressed Mercer.
We need more Dawson Mercer type stories in the game today especially with the current mindset of specialization and perceived notion that it helps get aspiring players to the next level.
“I grew up swimming, playing soccer and ball hockey in the summer.”
“I was the real guy that hung up the skates and played other sports,” explained Mercer.
Mercer is a special player with elite level skill and scoring ability, he’s a highly effective and elusive forward that was born to play in today’s era, born to play professional hockey, but let’s get one thing straight becoming a special player doesn’t mean specialization.
Special player, special person, Dawson Mercer’s journey in the game can teach every upcoming young player with NHL dreams a lesson.
Bay Roberst Dawson Mercer like so many other players born on “The Rock” realized at a very young age that if he wanted to achieve his hockey dreams that would mean one thing, leaving home.
Mercer didn’t know where his journey in the game would ultimately take him, but he and his family knew they wanted to keep both the NCAA and QMJHL options open.
At the end of the day Mercer’s first big choice was selecting Bishop’s College.
It became the perfect gap year, QMJHL Draft year decision.
“Obviously, that’s a decision you make as a young person in your life,” Mercer said of leaving home at fourteen years of age.
“My parents were there to support me, but they wanted me to make the decision on my own.”
“They didn’t want to effect my decision to stay home or not, they gave me the option to go away and I’m very grateful for that,” confessed Mercer.
Mercer knew from a young age that hockey was going to be a major part of his life.
“At that age I really did want to end up playing hockey for my life and that hockey was what I wanted to do.”
“I had to look forward and make the decision to move away and that was the right option to pursue my dream.”
We all know ultimately what route the pride of Bay Roberts took, but at the time how difficult was it to decide on either the NCAA or the QMJHL?
“At the time we weren’t really sure so that’s why Bishops was a good option for junior hockey and playing high level hockey, but also having the school side of it,” admitted Mercer.
“I’m very pleased with my decision and I wouldn’t change it at all, I love playing major junior.”
“I really just felt like I wanted to play high level hockey and coming into my sixteen year and really make that jump and give myself the best chance to pursue my dream of playing in the NHL.”
A Perfect Match
The Drummondville Voltigeurs and Dawson Mercer have been a match made in heaven.
The Volts selected Mercer with the 8th overall in the 2017 QMJHL Entry Draft.
As they say the rest is history.
The shy talented kid from “the Rock” was given every opportunity to play in all situations as a rookie and put up impressive/respectable numbers in his first foray in the QMJHL.
In 61 regular season games Mercer lite the lamp 11 times while adding 15 assists. In 10 playoff games that season, the future high scoring forward had 4 pts.
Mercer’s successful rookie campaign set the stage for an amazing breakout sophomore season with a high powered Volts team with Championship aspirations.
Unfortunately the Volts lost in the President Cup Semi Finals versus the Halifax Mooseheads, however the kid from Bay Roberts certainly didn’t disappoint.
In 68 games, Mercer amassed 64 points breaking the 30 goal plateau and finishing the year as a + 31.
Mercer is quick to credit the organization for taking care of him so well, but it definitely helps when you live with a coach and mentor.
For the past three seasons Mercer has lived with Volts Assistant Coach and former NHLer Denis Gauthier.
“When I first arrived in Drummondville as a sixteen year old it was just unbelievable. At that point they said that I would be staying with Denis.
“They care so much for me and up to this day they care a lot and included me in their family and have really supported me in my journey so far in the QMJHL,” said a reflective Mercer.
From Bay Roberts, Newfoundland to Drummondville, Quebec the similarities between the Mercer and Gauthier family’s are remarkable.
It’s made Mercer’s transition to the league and subsequent NHL Draft year pressure much easier to comprehend. Hockey is life, but hockey isn’t discussed when the trio arrives back home.
Trio you say? That’s right, Denis’ son Kaylen also plays for the Volts.
“Kaylen is joining my journey with the Volts, so it’s pretty special.”
“We don’t talk about hockey at home, which is another good thing about Denis.”
“It’s all business when we go to the rink and he will always tell me things at the rink and things to improve on.”
“Denis will help out all of our players at the rink, but as soon as we hit home, it’s like hockey almost leaves the house which really brings that home feeling to me. It’s really helped me throughout the years to keep that real home settled felling.”
Before Mercer’s arrival in Drummondville had he ever heard tell of Denis Gauthier?
“I obviously found out pretty quickly,” Mercer said.
“Denis had an amazing career and obviously he knows the game very well, it’s like he knows the game completely.”
“He’s really helping the Volts over the past few seasons.”
Gauthier has become an invaluable sounding board for Mercer especially under the rigors of his NHL Draft year.
“Denis experienced what I’m experiencing now he played the same route that I’ve taken, his family is really comparable to mine.”
“Denis’ family have really made my time hear enjoyable and they include me in all the activities they do, it’s just amazing time there,” Mercer said proudly.
So how is Mercer balancing the pressure of his NHL Draft year and all the attention that comes with being a star in the QMJHL.
“You understand the process these days,” confessed Mercer.
“Obviously you see guys growing up and you see guys going out for interviews. You understand the process and you get into the cycle of understanding what it’s all about.”
“I call my parents and say that I have an interview with an NHL team and it’s exciting as anything, but it’s becoming more normal for me now,” admitted Mercer.
“It’s been a part of my life to have these interviews coming so really I don’t take to much pressure with that so I try to go day by day, week by week and month by month so it really helps not taking the pressure with me.”
“I’m just going to focus on this game today and then I’ll move on to the next one in the future.”
So how many NHL teams has Mercer met with so far?
“Well I wouldn’t be able to exactly number, but it’s going up there a bit now, probably around ten so far, so that’s exciting.”
The kid from Bay Roberts might just find his way to the Czech Republic to represent his country at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championships.
Mercer was outstanding for Team QMJHL in both games. So what are the NHL scouts saying about Mercer? “Dawson has deceptive speed,” one NHL scout said.
“He has an ability to escape pressure. He possesses high compete and battle for pucks”
“Dawson is a good character who has a will to win,” they added.
Another NHL scout had this to say about Mercer. “Dawson has put up good numbers since coming in at sixteen with equals consistency.”
“He has shown his versatility being able to play center and wing and he’s also responsible defensively.”
“He could go in the first two rounds,” the NHL scout said.