2008-09: Michael Mersch joined the US National Development Team Program’s U-17 squad after competing for Team Illinois the previous year. In 65 games he was the team’s fourth-leading scorer with 27 goals with 19 assists and had 58 PMs. Mersch committed to attending the University of Wisconsin in 2010-11.
2009-10: Mersch skated in 49 games with the US National Development Team U18 program while accelerating his studies at Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School. He struggled offensively, scoring 4 goals with 10 assists and 30 PMs while developing a more well-rounded game. Mersch graduated high school in three years to be able to play college hockey rather in 2010-11 than spending a season in the USHL.
2010-11: Mersch forced his way into full-time role with Wisconsin as an 18-year-old freshman; skating in 41 games and providing both timely offense and determined physical play. Mersch scored 8 goals with 11 assists and was +23 with 32 PMs as the Badgers finished seventh in the WCHA during a roller coaster season. The Badgers won 12 of 13 games during one mid-season stretch (including splitting a series with eventual national champion Minnesota-Duluth) but then won just two of their last 11 games.
2011-12: Mersch was the third-leading scorer for Wisconsin as a sophomore. Skating in all situations for the Badgers, he scored 14 goals with 16 assists and was minus-five with 37 penalty minutes in 37 games. Seven of Mersch’s goals were scored on the power play. Wisconsin struggled to break the .500 mark, finishing an uncharacteristic 10th in the WCHA. The Badgers forced Denver to overtime in the decisive game of their three-game, first-round series in the WCHA tournament before falling 3-2. Mersch struggled against the powerful Pioneers; finishing minus-four with no points.
2012-13: Mersch was the top scorer for Wisconsin as a junior; leading the Badgers with 23 goals and adding 13 assists in 36 games. Paired with sophomore winger Joseph Labate much of the season, he was +18 with 22 penalty minutes and scored six goals on the power play. The Badgers finished tied for fourth in the WCHA and earned an NCAA bid after capturing the WCHA Broadmoor Trophy; defeating Colorado College, 3-2 in the championship game. Wisconsin lost to Massachusetts-Lowell, 6-1, in the NCAA Northeast Regional tournament.
2013-14: Mersch signed a three-year entry-level contract with Los Angeles in April 2014 and made his pro hockey debut with AHL affiliate Manchester following his senior season at Wisconsin. He scored 2 goals with 1 assist and was +3 with 2 penalty minutes in seven regular season games with the Monarchs. The Monarchs finished first in the Atlantic Division but were defeated by Norfolk in four games in a best-of-five first round playoff series. Mersch had an assist and an even plus/minus with 2 penalty minutes in four playoff games. He led the Badgers with 22 goals and had 13 assists, finishing +7 with 18 penalty minutes, in 37 games. The Badgers earned an NCAA Tournament berth, defeating Ohio State, 5-4 in overtime, in the championship game of the inaugural Big Ten tournament after finishing second in the regular season. Wisconsin lost 5-2 to North Dakota in the NCAA Midwest Regional semifinals.
Mersch is a big bodied and mature player who has made steady progress as a power forward during his career. He is responsible in all areas of the ice and has a very underrated scoring ability and offensive instincts. More of a pure goal scorer than a playmaker, he has a solid two-way game and has improved his offensive upside considerably.
Mersch attended his first NHL camp with the Kings before being assigned to AHL affiliate Manchester at the start of the 2014-15 season. In his first pro season, he has shown the common ups and downs of a player making the jump from college to pro hockey but has been a solid secondary goal scorer and playmaker for the Monarchs. Long-term, his size and scoring touch suggest he can be a valuable two-way, second or third line forward at the NHL level one day. The Kings pipeline is fairly well-stocked with talented right wingers so it may take him time to reach the NHL.