Nick Merkley
Images: CHL Images

Nick Merkley

Hometown:

Calgary Alberta

Currently Playing In:

CHL

Birthday:

1997-05-23

Position:

RW

Eligible for draft:

2015

Shoots:

Right

Drafted:

2015

Height:

5-11

Acquired:

1st Round (30th Overall), 2015

Weight:

191 lbs.

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History

2011-12: Nick Merkley skated for the Calgary Bisons bantam AAA team and played for the Calgary South Flames in the Alberta Cup. He was selected by Kelowna in the first round (ninth overall) in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft. 

2012-13: Merkley made his WHL debut in a December cameo appearance with Kelowna, later joining the Rockets for the WHL playoffs following his midget AAA season with the Calgary Buffaloes in the Alberta Midget Hockey League.  He had no points nor penalties in his only regular season game with Kelowna and was -2 with 3 assists in seven playoff contests. Merkley scored 14 goals with 19 assists and 95 penalty minutes in 30 regular season games for the Buffaloes. Calgary reached the AMHL semifinals before falling to Red Deer and Merkley had 4 goals with 6 assists and 16 penalty minutes in 11 playoff games. 

2013-14: Merkley was the fifth-leading scorer for Kelowna as a 16-year-old and was an assistant captain for the Canada Pacific U17 team at the 2014 World Hockey Challenge. He scored 25 goals with 33 assists and was +24 with 46 penalty minutes in 66 regular season games for the Rockets. Kelowna finished first in the B.C Division, reaching the Western Conference finals against Portland. Merkley scored 4 goals with 13 assists and was +5 with 12 penalty minutes in 14 playoff games. He scored 2 goals with 3 assists and 14 penalty minutes in six games for Canada Pacific. 

2014-15: Merkley returned to Kelowna for his second WHL season after winning a gold medal as an assistant captain for the Canada U18 team at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. He was the WHL’s sixth-leading scorer and was the league’s third-leading scorer in the playoffs behind Portland’s Nicolas Petan (Winnipeg) and Rockets’ teammate Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton) during Kelowna’s championship run. He scored 20 goals and was third in the WHL with  70 assists in 72 regular season games and was +29 with 79 penalty minutes. The Rockets finished first in the B.C. Division and defeated Brandon in the WHL finals. Merkley scored 5 goals with 22 assists and was +12 with 18 penalty minutes in 19 WHL playoff games. He scored 3 goals with 2 assists and was +1 with 14 penalty minutes in five games at the Memorial Cup. Kelowna reached the final, falling 2-1 in overtime to Oshawa. Merkley was +9 with 4 assists and 8 penalty minutes in five games for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. He skated for Team Orr in the 2015 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and was ranked 23rd amongst North American skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings. Merkley was selected by Arizona in the first round (30th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft. 

Talent Analysis

Merkley shoots with accuracy but is a pure passer, the top playmaker on the Rockets in 2014-15. He is prepared to play physically, but occasionally expends energy making contact when there is little advantage in doing so. Merkley added some grit to his game this season to complement his already dynamic skating ability.

Future

Merkley participated in the Canada U20 evaluation camp over the summer and will skate in his first training camp before likely returning to Kelowna for his third WHL season in 2015-16. The Rockets lost several players from last year's championship squad and Merkley will be counted on to lead the way offensively. He is a candidate to skate for Canada at the World Juniors as an 18-year-old. With his work ethic, physical edge, and scoring ability, Merkley has the tools and versatility to eventually play any of the three forward positions.

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