New Jersey Devils: Can We Expect A Jump In Dawson Mercer's Production?

Dawson Mercer had a really rough start to the season, but he's been much better as of late. Can the New Jersey Devils expect him to be more reliable for the rest of the season?

New Jersey Devils v Columbus Blue Jackets
New Jersey Devils v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

The New Jersey Devils have had a lot go wrong this season. The goaltending is a mess, and the defense is not helping. There was a stretch where the power play was incredibly dominant, but that's no longer the case. Certain players are really struggling (Jonas Siegenthaler, John Marino, and Vitek Vanecek come top of mind), but one of the biggest disappointments has been the start of the season for Dawson Mercer.

Mercer is considered an untouchable piece coming into the season. His trajectory was insane. In his rookie season, Mercer had 17 goals and 25 assists. Last season, he jumped to 27 goals and 29 assists. Those 56 points showcased a 33% jump from one year to the next. Based on the same trajectory, Mercer should add 18 points to his total this season. That would give him 74 points in 2023-24.

Mercer is not close to that right now. Through 30 games, Mercer has eight goals and six assists. That's a 38 point pace, which would be by far the worst of his career.

He's still doing a lot for this team, playing more penalty kill minutes than any other Devils forward. He's also been flipping between lines, and he rarely plays with Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier, which was a surprise. Most thought he'd find his way on one of their lines. According to Natural Stat Trick, Mercer has played 68 minutes with Hughes and 34 minutes with Hischier. He's played 315 minutes at even strength without them.

Right now, Mercer is on a line with Michael McLeod and Timo Meier. McLeod has been phenomenal this season, and Meier is finally breaking out of his slump. This could be a really good spot for Mercer, who has looked a little better as of late.

Mercer went scoreless in his first 10 games of the season. That's hard to come back from. Since then, he's had 14 points in 22 games. If he continues on that trajectory, he'll add 31 points to his total by the end of the season. 45 points is not ideal for Mercer, but it's at least acceptable. On top of it, this would make the contract negotiation a lot easier. In the long run, this could be a good thing.

We also have to remember Mercer is prone to the insane hot streak where he scores at will. Last season, from February 16 to March 11, Mercer had 20 points in 12 games. He recorded a point in every one of those games, and he even had five multi-point games. If you remember, Hughes was struggling at this time after coming back from an injury. Mercer stepped up when the Devils needed him.

With McLeod and Meier next to him, Mercer might finally have a chance to break out. If he can get to 55-60 points this season, then there will be no reason to call him anything other than untouchable. He's a core piece to this team, and it's way too early to call him anything but.

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