As stated in my article on Two Pad Stack about how the Canucks should try drafting local, here is a perfect opportunity for Vancouver to redeem themselves; Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets is a sure thing. Well, I should clarify; with a growth spurt and a few extra pounds on his frame, he has the ability to be a huge part of the Canucks future.
In 2013, Merkley arrived during the playoffs to try and help the Kelowna Rockets beat the Kamloops Blazers. It wasn’t meant to be, but what everyone saw was that they had the makings of a star. He racked up 3 assists in 7 playoff games but to his credit, he probably should have had 4 goals too. The puck just finds his stick and he is one of the few players in hockey that knows exactly how to be in the right place at the right time.
His hockey IQ looks like it should be off the charts and his ability to stay calm and make smart plays in a fast paced environment is evidence that he can control the game. Merkley is a great setup man, something Ryan Kesler never was; and his smooth hands have goalies looking behind their back in the net when he skates by with his arms in the air. Just as a quick example, take a look at this past Saturdays hilites in Kelowna, he’s #10…..don’t miss the dirty move on the Brandon Wheatkings netminder at 2:05 mark.
With the Canucks failing to see the gems that exist in British Columbia, save Alex Edler, they can get these guys on the cheap and they have the best access to see them. What they will get in Merkley is a Gretzky-like, ya I said it, playmaker, a savvy shot and moves around defenders that just make you look at the guy next to you and do this:
Vancouver is going to need a new breed of hybrid forward in the next few years once the Sedins are gone, Burrows starts tailing off and the kids (Horvat, Fox, Shinkaruk and Virtanen) need help. Merkley has the potential to be a 2nd line center, maybe higher on the right team. If its in a Canucks jersey, sitting second fiddle to Horvat isn’t exactly bad.
Nick Merkley aka @merkdaddy4 doesn’t have an attitude, loves to feed his team mates the puck and all he does is win. He was the 2014 WHL Rookie of the Year, CHL Rookie of the year finalist, 2014/15 U-18 Ivan Hlinka Gold Medallist with Team Canada and after this season, possibly the WHL scoring champion and World Junior Championship Gold Medallist after Christmas.
The Canucks have a chance to do something right this year at the draft regardless of where they pick. As of right now, he is ranked 30th which is a deal for anyone making the playoffs….wink wink Canucks. Check out his real good stats too eh?
If you live in any of the cities the Rockets play this year, check out how good this kid is. If we’re lucky, we may get to see him suit up with the green and blue before we know it.