20 Prospects in 20 Days: Nick Merkley

(Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

(Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

By: Andy Hughes (@PensNation_Andy)

With only 4 days left until the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft in Florida, we will be breaking down a prospect each day up until June 26th. Today we look at forward Nick Merkley.

(NHL.com)

RW Nick Merkley, Kelowna (WHL), 18 years old

Height: 5’10”, Weight: 191 pounds, Shoots: Right

RANKED:

NHL Central Scouting: 23rd among North American Skaters

TSN: 11th among all players

2014-15 Stats: 72 games, 20 goals, 70 assists, 90 points, 79 penalty minutes

 

Forward Nick Merkley could probably be labeled as superstitious just like many other athletes. The Canadian right winger had an unbelievable season this year for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL, registering 20 goals and 70 assists in 72 games. His big secret? Ice cream sandwiches. Well okay, maybe he’s just talented but that wouldn’t stop Merkley from having an ice cream sandwich before each game this past season. He forgot to eat one during a game and he ended up struggling in that game. Therefore, he could never forget to eat one pre-game ever again. It’s a funny story, but let’s get serious here. Merkley really stepped up his game in the postseason where he led his team to their fourth WHL championship title by notching 5 goals and 22 assists in 19 playoff games. It was quite an encore season after winning the WHL Rookie of the Year award in 2013-14 as a 16-year-old. While there are many talented forwards in this draft class, Merkley isn’t getting enough attention. The big knock on him is his size since he is 5-foot-10. Yes, that is a small frame, but that hasn’t stopped him from producing wherever he’s gone to. He isn’t afraid to battle in the corners or go to the dirty areas in front of the net, which makes him a very determined player. Merkley has incredible vision and is a very smart player, which is why he gets so many assists. He is able to make great passes with little or no space. This fact makes him more of a playmaker than a sniper, but he does have a good shot too. Shooting more wouldn’t hurt. Merkley is a very good skater and can change speeds very quickly to throw off defenders. This makes it very hard to knock the puck off him. He is known to be a fan favorite because he never takes a shift off. He’s the guy who works hard in every situation and will play defense. He’s able to transition from defense to offense very quickly, which makes him fun to watch. Merkley is certainly doing his homework this offseason as he has been training with Jordan Eberle and Mike Green. This is a smart kid who deserves to be drafted in the first round and he most likely will. He was selected 16th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in USA Today’s mock draft, which seems a bit low. Getting him at 16th overall is an absolute steal, in my opinion. He’s a player who could fall as a result of his size, which is a shame. But, that’s reality. If he falls past 16th overall, I could definitely see a team trading up to snag him. Merkley has the potential to be a good, play making second line center who can play in any situation. Oh, and make sure to get 82 ice cream sandwiches!

VIDEO:

Previously Seen in “20 Prospects in 20 Days”:

Jakub Zboril
Pavel Zacha
Zach Werenski
Brock Boeser
Lawson Crouse
Noah Hanifin
Ivan Provorov
Kyle Connor
Timo Meier
Dylan Strome
Mitch Marner
Mathew Barzal
Thomas Chabot
Evgeny Svechnikov
Mikko Rantanen
Ilya Samsonov