Nick Merkley: 2015 NHL Top Prospect

Nick Merkley — 

Winnipeg Hockey Talk’s evaluations of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft top prospects continue today with our featured prospect Nick Merkley.

League:  WHL     Team: Kelowna Rockets 

Position:  C/RW     Shoots:  Right

DOB:  May 23, 1997     Birthplace:  Calgary, Alberta

Height: 5’11     Weight:  190

2014-15 WHL Stats: Regular season

Games: 72   G: 20   A: 70  Pts: 90  PIM: 79   Plus/Minus: +29

2014-15 WHL Stats:  Playoffs 

Games: 19  G: 5   A: 22  Pts: 27  PIM: 18   Plus/Minus: +5

Nick Merkley played this past season for the WHL Champion Kelowna Rockets.


1.  Selected 9th overall in the 1st round by the Kelowna Rockets in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.

2.  Winner of the Jim Piggott Trophy as WHL Rookie of the Year. 

3.  Represented Canada and won a Gold Medal at the 2014-15 U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament . 

4.  Represented the WHL in the 2014-15 Super Series versus the Russian All-Stars.

5.  Played for Team Orr at the 2014-15 CHL Top Prospects game.

Offensive Buzzwords

Nick Merkley is a crafty play-making forward with great vision that creates a lot of scoring chances for his teammates (70 assists).  He sees the ice extremely well and transitions from defence to offence very quickly.  Merkley is not a big forward but he doesn’t shy away from the physical game or the tough areas of the ice.  He is very strong on the fore-check and has an excellent work ethic and compete level that more than make up for his lack of size.  Merkley has a very good accurate shot with a quick release and would probably score more if he was a little more selfish with the puck.    

Nick Merkley has a nice blend of skill, grit, work ethic and hockey sense.


Nick Merkley would be considered a good skater with very good straight on speed with good balance and agility.

Nick Merkley video: 3:38 seconds  

Defensive Buzzwords

Nick Merkley’s defensive game is solid.  He is definately a 200 ft player, competing hard in all three zones on the ice.  His compete level and work ethic are very good but like all prospects he will have to take his defensive game to another level in the pro-game.

Prospect Analysis 

Nick Merkley projects as a solid two-way player that could play in a team’s “Top 6” forwards.  He had a very impressive rookie season in the WHL in 2013-14 and transitioned himself into an elite scorer on the WHL Champion Kelowna Rockets in 2014-15.  He could surprise and go higher than the 15-20 range I have him slotted and it wouldn’t be a stretch.

Keep an eye on him Winnipeg Jets fans!      

Projected:  #15 – #20



  1. George Bain says

    I wonder if he will still be available when the Jets get their first selection? I wouldn’t be disappointed if he was chosen by the Jets.

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      It will be close … he should be right in the Jets range but then again I think Svechnikov will be around there too and he is somebody I would be interested in also.

      • George Bain says

        I haven’t seen Svechnikov play but from all reports he looks very good. Either way I think Winnipeg ends up with two very good prospects barring a trade.

  2. Interesting. Don’t his puckhandling and skating style remind you of Brian Little’s?

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