Earlier this year, the New Jersey Devils drafted Dawson Mercer eighteenth overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Tomorrow, Dawson Mercer and Team Canada will look to defend their Gold Medal at the 2021 World Junior Championships. Today, Mercer took another step in his budding hockey career. The New Jersey Devils announced that they have signed Mercer to an entry level contract this morning. Terms of the ELC are yet to be revealed and will be added to this post when they are confirmed. It has been a big second half of 2020 for Mercer with respect to hockey.
It is good to see the Devils take care of this early with Mercer. Now that he is signed, there is a pathway for him to join New Jersey in the future. For this season, provided he stays in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with Chicoutimi, the three-year deal will slide into next season at the earliest. Given that Mercer was born on October 27, 2001, he would be eligible to play in the AHL in 2021-22 after he turns 20. It also means he could join the Devils at training camp next season.
He technically could be a part of this year’s camp now that he is signed, but I would not expect that to happen. He will play in the 2021 WJC for Canada starting tomorrow. With the World Junior Championships starting tomorrow and running through January 5 and that it is in Canada, camp will end before a quarantine period would end. Mercer is not likely going to surpass a plethora of forwards who will be competing for roster and taxi squad spots next week. He will likely return to Chicoutimi when the WJC is over. The QMJHL will resume play on January 22, 2021 in protected environments, one of which is hosted by Mercer’s team.
The main benefit of this signing is that the Devils secured his future services today instead of waiting until later in 2021. Mercer is a versatile and smart forward who does a lot of things well on the ice. He is one to watch. If the 2020 AAtJ Top 25 Devils Under 25 list is to go by, then a lot of you know that already. He debuted on the list at tenth and the community survey ranked him eleventh among all 52 players under the age of 25 that is in the Devils’ system. His future is perceived to be bright. Today’s signing is a piece of evidence that the organization sees it that way too.
Quick aside: You may wonder about the other two first round picks the Devils drafted in 2020. When will they be signed? Alexander Holtz and Shakir Mukhamadullin are under contract with their respective teams right now. When those are closer to ending, then you will likely see an ELC be signed then for those two. In fact, I think the only other 2020 drafted player that could be signed in the near future may be goaltender Nico Daws as he was with Guelph. But that is not necessary at the moment as the Devils have his rights for the next two seasons.
Congratulations to Mercer for signing his first NHL contract with the Devils today. Best of luck to him at the 2021 WJC and with Chicoutimi when their season resumes in January. What do you think of today’s news of Mercer signing?