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Eddy Jones The Hockey Writers

Published on Monday, March 22, 2021





Prospects News & Rumors: Mercer, Lucius & Thomas

New Jersey Devils prospect Dawson Mercer recorded his third hat trick of the season on the weekend to extend his point streak to 10 games. United States National Development Team Program (NTDP) forward Chaz Lucius recorded a 4-point effort to continue his hot start to the season. Los Angeles Kings prospect Akil Thomas recorded his first career AHL hat trick to lead the Ontario Reign to a comeback victory.

Mercer Scores Third Hat Trick of the Season

Devils prospect Mercer recorded his third hat trick of the 2020-21 season in the Chicoutimi Saguenéens’ 4-2 victory over the Sherbrooke Phoenix on Saturday. The goals also extended his 10-game point streak in which he has 11 goals and nine assists. He has failed to record a point in only one of his 19 games played this season, and he ranks ninth in points-per-game average with 1.58 and 22nd in points overall. Despite playing at least eight games fewer than most of his peers, he still ranks 10th in goals in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).

THW’s Matthew Zator broke down how Mercer fits into the Devils’ system after he was drafted in October.

The Devils add yet another strong center to their depth chart in Mercer to team up with Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. He adds character, skill and the intangibles that make a player special. He was on Team Canada for their gold medal win and still played a role on the team, even though he was on the younger side.

Drafted 18th overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, he spent the 2019-20 season in the QMJHL splitting time between the Drummondville Voltigeurs and Chicoutimi. He was traded to the Saguenéens halfway through the season. He amassed 18 goals and 24 assists in 26 games played with Drummondville and six goals and 12 assists in 16 games played for Chicoutimi. He also represented Canada at the last two World Junior Championships winning a gold medal in 2020 and a silver medal in 2021.

Lucius Records 4-Point Effort

Lucius has been on fire since returning to the USNTDP. The 17-year-old is a gifted goal scorer who was sidelined all season with a lower-body injury. He returned to action in February in the best way possible, recording two goals in the USNTDP’s 5-4 victory over the Chicago Steel.

Through his first six games of the season, he now has six goals and one assist for seven points, and he had goals in five of his first six games. He’s got a lot of ground to make up to get back into the discussion as a top-10 pick for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, but he added another impressive performance to his resume with a 4-point performance in the USNTDP’s 9-0 victory over the Youngstown Phantoms on Sunday.

Former THW writer Josh Bell broke down Lucius’ goal-scoring ability in his 5 USNTDP Players to Watch’ article from earlier this year.

While the 2020 NHL Draft has a few players who enter the conversation of best shot (sidebar: it’s Alexander Holtz), Lucius should have that in the bag for the 2021 edition. He has a nose for the back of the net, and his shot has the speed and strength to force its way through. Not that it needs to, as he can pick corners with relative ease. Lucius used this goalscoring ability to put on a show at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, leading the tournament in goals (seven) and points (10) while winning the silver medal and earning a spot on the All-Star Team. In 2020-21, look for Lucius to put up Cole Caufield-like numbers.

– Josh Bell

The 4-point effort gives Lucius seven goals and four assists in seven United States Hockey League games, and it won’t take long for him to shoot back up the draft rankings if he continues to produce like this. There will be plenty of opportunities for him to extend his hot start. Premier goal scorers are always in high demand, and Lucius could be the very best in this year’s draft. That alone will see him rise in the rankings as he gets more reps this season.

Thomas Grabs First AHL Hat Trick

After a slow start that saw Thomas grab only three goals in his first 12 AHL games, he’s heated up with three goals and five assists in his last seven games played, including his first career hat trick on Sunday night. Quinton Byfield recorded a goal for his fourth straight game to open the scoring for the Reign against the Bakersfield Condors. The Reign trailed 4-1 with just over three minutes remaining in the game before Thomas took over and scored three straight goals to send the game to overtime. He also recorded one of the two shootout goals as the Reign walked away with the 5-4 victory. Thomas is now up to six goals and five assists in 19 games played.

Drafted 51st overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, he spent the 2019-20 season in the Ontario Hockey League splitting time between the Niagara IceDogs and the Peterborough Petes. He recorded 15 goals and 29 assists in 27 games played with the IceDogs and nine goals and 31 assists for 40 points in 22 games with the Petes.

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