New Jersey Devils: Best Ways To Use Dawson Mercer Moving Forward

Dawson Mercer #18 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images)
Dawson Mercer #18 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images) /

This has happened many times before. A rookie or other young player comes out on absolute fire before coming back to Earth in the middle of the season. We have many examples just in our recent memory. The best example from a surprising rookie is the output we saw from Jesper Bratt in 2017-18. As a former sixth-round pick, Bratt went from a surprise signing to a dominant preseason force to make a team that would end up being the best of this era.

The New Jersey Devils are trying to figure out the best option for Dawson Mercer moving forward. He’s still the most exciting first-year player in the Devils organization. He’s held down a center position for a while now. The team tried to put him at wing for a game or two, but it was not the best look for him at that time.

Still, something just isn’t working here. Right now, he’s on a line with Andreas Johnsson and a mixture of Tomas Tatar, Pavel Zacha, and Janne Kuokkanen. It’s clear his linemates are an issue here, and the Devils lineup is having trouble really finding chemistry after the first line. Jesper Bratt, Jack Hughes, and Yegor Sharangovich have been great together. Outside of that, there’s no real line that scares opposing teams. It’s led to a lack of offense because teams can easily play matchups against them, and they can’t win games.

Mercer’s numbers have plummeted this season. After putting up nine points in November, a month he spent most of his time on a line with Bratt, he now has two straight months with just four points each. What’s worse is he has no goals this month. Yes, his linemates are not stepping up, but he needs to make his own opportunities especially since the Devils power play is much improved.

So, how should the Devils use Mercer moving forward? It’s hard to say. He’s struggling a lot right now, and the Devils could try to kill two birds with one stone by putting him on a line with Nico Hischier. This would give Hischier a worthwhile wing, this could put Pavel Zacha back at center on the third line which might get him going again, and it takes some responsibility off Mercer’s shoulders. It’s just a thought, and we’re willing to take suggestions, but the Devils need to find a way to get Mercer going again.

There’s also the AHL option, but that seems unlikely. Mercer is too good for that league even with his point-scoring struggles. He does a lot of other things right, and a demotion probably does more harm than good.

Next. New Jersey Devils Available At Trade Deadline. dark

Either way, the Devils would be smart to focus on his development than his numbers. If they think he’s going in the right direction, then follow that in perpetuity. If not, then change it. It might be simplifying it too much, but it’s exactly how the Devils should deal with this situation. Mercer is a huge part of this team’s future success, and that success is not happening this season.