Prospect Profiles - Dawson Mercer and Seth Jarvis
In my last blog I spoke about how the Edmonton Oilers should avoid selecting a potential longer term project like Yaroslav Askarov, instead focusing on one of the high ceiling forwards instead. The 2020 Draft is absolutely a forwards draft and aside from a couple of prolific defensive names like Jamie Drysdale or Jake Sanderson who should both be top 10 picks, most attention is on the many wingers and centres available.
This season I’m likely not going to post a Mock Draft because I am far too good at making the picks and I don’t want to ruin the surprise for the rest of you. (Don’t look back at my previous Mock Drafts, just take my word for it).
Without going into an exact order, I do expect the following players to be gone after the first 10 picks.
Perhaps right winger Jack Quinn makes it into this group or even Yaroslav Askarov but there seems to be a general consensus that this is the top of the 2020 Draft Class.
This still leaves a number of high end options that should be available when the Oilers select at the #14 spot. Today we are going to look at two potential selections for the Oilers, what they accomplished in their draft year and their similarities and differences.
We are taking a look at centre/winger prospects Dawson Mercer and Seth Jarvis.
Mercer who might be the second player selected from the QMJHL this draft (behind Alexis Lafreniere) split his season between the Drummondville Voltigeurs and the Chicutimi Sagueneens finished the season with 60 points in 42 games. Seth Jarvis plays in the WHL for the Portland Winterhawks and produced 98 points through 58 games.
At first glance Jarvis seems to be leagues ahead of Mercer in terms of point production but Mercer did miss a good chunk of games due to an arm injury where he was cut with a skate as well as a six game suspension. Mercer finished the year scoring at a 1.43 ppg clip while Jarvis produced at a 1.69 ppg pace. Still an edge to Jarvis.
Let’s look at each player’s individual season.
Mercer began his season putting up big points for the Drummondville Voltigeurs and finished third in goals with 18 and fourth in total scoring on that team despite playing just under 40 fewer games than each player above him. On January 6th, just after winning gold with Team Canada at the World Juniors, Mercer was traded to the much more competitive Chicutimi Sagueneens. The Sangueneens would finish with a record of 45-12-5 while the Voltigeurs ended with a 36-25-2 record.
Mercer did not replicate his same early pace with his new team, and in the 16 games he played for Chicoutimi, he scored 6 goals and put up 18 points. None of his goals came on the powerplay. The fluke injury combined with adapting to a new team likely both played large factors here, as does the fact the Mercer was now on a much deeper team with the likes of Harvey-Pinard who led the team with 78 points, Samuel Houde who finished with 52 points, and Oilers draft pick Raphael Lavoie who scored 20 goals through a mere 25 games after being traded to the Sagueneens (seriously this kid is going to be good). None of this hurt his draft rankings much as Bob McKenzie had Mercer as the 13th best pick in January and in his final rankings still had him in that same spot. In his final rankings, McKenzie had Jarvis listed as the 18th best player and NHL Central Scouting has Mercer as the 6th best NA skater while listing Jarvis as the 11th.
So, despite appearing to lack the same offensive capabilities, what makes so many rankings list Mercer higher?
Aside from the obvious top end picks, Mercer might be the safest selection in this draft, with most scouts describing him as either a "jack-of-all-trades" or "good at many things but a master of none." Dawson Mercer plays a 200 foot game and is an above average skater. At 6' 180lbs he is able to use his strong core and lower frame to remove the opposition from the puck. He won't shy away from being physical but he is far more likely to use his stick to create turnovers than his body.
Mercer spent his first two seasons on the right wing but this season made the transition to centre which helped his defensive game improve even further and did not limit him offensively. He is far more of a playmaker than a goal scorer but he isn't a slouch in the goal scoring department either. He isn't a one trick pony in where he finds his goals either as he has produced off his wrist shot, deflections in front of the net, in tight, and even a couple of one timers.
Comparables are never an exact science but I understand fans who appreciate them because it allows them to imagine what these players could be at their ceiling. Dawson Mercer will likely never win an Art Ross Trophy or a Rocket but the praise his 200 foot game receives could mean there is a Selke somewhere in his future. His game has received comparisons to that of Jonathan Toews as well as Sean Couturier. Couturier actually played on the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the Q as well, and though he produced at a far higher clip than Mercer, it was also on a very good team.
All in all, Mercer looks like a player who could jump in comfortably on an NHL team within the next two years as a third line centre or complimentary winger. From there his ceiling is in question but as a low risk, decent reward option he is certainly inticing.
You want offense? Seth Jarvis has plenty to offer.
One of the biggest risers in the draft, Jarvis was ranked 24th by McKenzie in January and 18th in June. Craig Button had him 46th in January and 23rd in his final rankings. A big part of this is the fact that Jarvis simply did not have a great start to his season, but when he ramped things up they really ramped up. 63 of his 98 points came in his last 26 games. Had Jarvis played through a full WHL season he almost certainly would have cracked 50 goals.
Jarvis scores goals. It's clearly his thing. Seth Jarvis is a sniper with a wealth of different shots in his arsenal. He is highly accurate and uses his skating ability in tandem to get into open lanes to unleash his shot. While he did alternate between centre and the wing, it is likely that in the NHL he would be far more suited as a winger.
Now is usually the time with a young sniper that I would talk about how he has the tendency to cheat for offense and needs to work on his defensive game but that is not the case. Not only is Jarvis described as a responsible player in his own end, but the Winterhawks actually used him a good amount on the penalty kill. He scored two shorthanded goals this season. Jarvis is a highly versatile player and in the age where the NHL has moved to a faster transition game his skillset fits right in. In terms of style of play, Jarvis himself has said he tries to play a game similar to that of Mitch Marner.
With all this being said, why is this player not a sure fire top 10 pick?
The answer is size, or a lack thereof. Seth Jarvis stands at a height between 5'9 and 5'10 (depending on the site) and 170lbs. Time and time again we have seen diminutive players fall in the draft and Jarvis might be the next to do so. A year ago the 5'7 Cole Caufield was ranked as high as 4th overall in some drafts yet ended up falling to 15th to the Montreal Canadiens. Scouts will question if a 5'9 player will be able to handle the rigors of the NHL and when the amount of ice available starts to disappear, will he be effective. It's fair reasoning to a degree but with the amount of skill that is here, Jarvis seems worthy of the risk.
In my opinion, if both of these players do find themselves available at the #14 spot I am selecting Jarvis over Mercer. Edmonton is already stacked at centre for the next decade and the team is in need of more natural goal scorers than playmakers. Right now Raphael Lavoie is the best forward prospect the Oilers have in toe but if both he and Jarvis pan out, the Edmonton Oilers could have one of the most dangerous forward groups for years to come.
Thanks for reading!