August 25, 2020

Five For Dawson Mercer

“Five For…” is a Q&A feature with NHL Draft eligibles that touches on their lives and careers leading into the 2020 NHL Draft. This edition features forward Dawson Mercer of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens.

It was quite the season for Dawson Mercer.

From a QMJHL trade from the Drummondville Voltigeurs to the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, a World Juniors gold, and a global pandemic, it was a busy season for the forward.

Mercer, No. 13 in FCHockey’s Final ranking for the 2020 draft, collected 60 points (24 goals, 36 assists) in 42 games between his two QMJHL teams, and impressed at the Canada-Russia Series, Top Prospect’s Game, and the World Junior Championship.

The Carbonear, Newfoundland native was a finalist in the QMJHL for the Mike Bossy Award as best professional prospect, and the Paul Dumont Trophy as personality of the year, both awarded to projected top pick, Alexis Lafreniere.

FCHockey recently caught up with the right winger.

FC: You were named to the Canadian World Juniors team. Being in your draft year, especially for Team Canada, that’s no small feat. What was your thought process after getting the invite to camp and then making the team?
DM: Back in the summer, I never had the invite [to the Wold Junior Selection Camp] and I knew where I stood within all the players that were there. I felt I had a good chance to progress to make sure I had that invitation to try and make the roster. The Canada-Russia Series was a good opportunity for that. I think I had a good performance there, showed my game and I really think that earned me that invite – and from my strong start to the season – but I think the Canada-Russia Series really put the cherry on top to make sure that it was confirmed that I could get that invite.

FC: And then of course, you won a gold medal, becoming just the third player from Newfoundland to ever win gold at the World Juniors. How exciting was that moment for you?
DM: It was really special to have that opportunity. There are not too many players from Newfoundland playing. I was the third one from Newfoundland to win it and I was the first one in a decade to play for the World Junior team. I think that was pretty special and I hope if everything goes to plan, I can have this opportunity again. It would be pretty special.

FC: Speaking of your home province, what was it like growing up in Newfoundland and the hockey there?
DM: I’m really proud of where I came from, I really enjoy coming back and visiting. This is where I grew up and it always has a special feeling. When I get the opportunity to come home, I really enjoy it. Basically, growing up, I played with all my buddies, playing AAA hockey around the Island. It was good competition. My age group was strong at the time. But then when Midget started up, I moved away. My draft year for the Q, I moved to Quebec. I made the transition then and just kept on following the steps and that led to playing in the Q. But back home, my uncle ran a hockey camp for us when we were young and just little stuff like that, the support was there. It paid off to help get me where I am today.

FC: After being drafted into the QMJHL, what was the transition like moving to another province, especially one that largely speaks another language
DM: Yeah, I did’t know French coming from Newfoundland, but I went to Bishop College which was an English school in Sherbrooke. But obviously there was French. And then I went into the Q and I’ve been around French for about four years, so I’m getting used to it now so it’ doesn’t bother me any. But at the start, obviously moving away from home at a young age is difficult but my goal is to play hockey, play in the NHL, and achieve all the goals I set out to. That was a part of my decision to move away. That was a real turning point when I was like “if I want to do this, going away will give me a better chance.” I was grateful for having that opportunity from my parents because it was a pretty hard decision for them to let me go when I was still 14 going on 15. It was a tough decision for everyone but for sure it’s worked out for the best.

FC: Who was your favourite player growing up?
DM: He still is now, Patrice Bergeron. He’s a two-way player, I think he’s one of the best leaders in the NHL, everyone respects him. He’s just that complete, two-way guy where he can show offensive ability and he’s so good defensively. He can be out there on the PK, power play and do it all. I think that’s what I want to do as a player, just be that two-way, complete player who has leadership and brings it on and off the ice. I think looking up to him is really special because he’s the only player I got his jersey of when I was a kid. To keep on following him growing up was pretty cool.

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