With the 17th overall pick in SBN's 2015 NHL Mock Draft Arctic Ice Hockey (on behalf of the Winnipeg Jets) selects Nick Merkley. Nick Merkley is a dynamic and highly skilled forward has been a key cog on a very good Kelowna Rockets hockey team for a couple of years now. Blessed with elite hands and high end smarts, Merkley has the ability to make plays all over the ice. He is also an incredibly hard worker. If not for his slightly small stature, Merkley would likely be ranked higher than he is. He has the skill to be a top line forward in the NHL. He is also exactly the kind of player that the Winnipeg Jets covet.
Just imagine a line of Nick (Merkley) - Nic (Petan) - Nik (Ehlers). Heaven.
Weight: 192 lbs
The Previous Picks
While I was very excited to find Nick Merkley on the board at #17, the voting wasn't unanimous. Evgeni Svechnikov was also in strong contention to be picked at by our panel of voters. Svechnikov is another highly skilled skater. He is big and he plays on the wing - which is a position of need in the Winnipeg Jets' system. He was number two on my personal list as well.
The big takeaway here is that there is likely to be some real talent on the board at number 17. This draft class is damn impressive and both of these players would likely be in the mix for the top 10 in some lesser seasons.
The Scouting Reports
A playmaking center that has an excellent eye for the game; sees the ice like a hawk from above. Creates scoring chances and on-ice energy through taking advantage of puck-possession and making the most of turnovers. Incredible work ethic; will battle against larger players and isn't afraid to do the dirty work in front of the net. Does not possess the largest frame or a dynamic level of skating; however, he does boast a remarkably high level of Hockey-IQ and a deep understanding of the game. There is something left to be desired having observed his individual skills, such as puckhandling, footspeed, and decision-making, for a prolonged period of time; there is definitely room for improvement in the small areas of his game. All-in-all, Merkley brings a medley of skill, smarts, and work ethic to the table, making him an invaluable asset as a Center. (Curtis Joe, EP)
An offensive forward that makes an impact in the game every time he touches the puck…improved skater this season and possess more jump in his step…not big by any stretch but shows a willingness to throw his weight around…impressive hockey sense and ability to think the game…very creative and crafty with the puck…plays a complete 200-foot game…a strong playmaker with impressive vision and touch on his passes…willing to take the puck to the net…has an effective shot that is quick off his stick (Future Considerations, 2014)
Nick Merkley is tenacious in the backcheck and uses his hockey IQ to anticipate plays and create turnovers. He gets the transition game going very quickly when he does steal pucks or intercept passes. He is willing to block shots and works to provide back pressure and support down low. Again more upper body strength would help him to contain opposing forwards down low in the cycle game. Merkley is the type of high-energy player who never takes a shift off and competes hard in all three zones, and is the type who will quickly become a coaches’ favorite. In terms of upside, Merkley can be a dynamic play making centre on the second line in the NHL, assuming he is given the time to develop and is able to reach his ceiling. His style is reminiscent of a cross between David Desharnais in terms of his hockey IQ, vision, passing ability, and accurate but underused shot, and Brendan Gallagher in his tenaciousness, battle in front of the net and in the corners and three zone play. (Last Word on Sports)
Would you be happy with Nick Merkley at 17 overall?