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NHL Prospect Profile: Ryan Merkley

AJ Haefele Avatar
June 4, 2018

Statistics

Scout Quotes

Merkley has the skating and passing skill to start the transition game. He is a talented puck handler who can carry the puck out of his own end and lead the transition game. Merkley is also able to make a long home-run pass in transition. He can also quarterback the play from the point. Merkley has great vision and passing skill. He can thread tape-to-tape passes through tight areas, and set up teammates for scoring chances.

The offensive game and the skating make Merkley an intriguing prospect. He is very much a boom or bust prospect. The skills to be a number one defenseman are there. However, attitude issues and his defensive lapses must be considered real red flags. The team that takes Merkley could be getting a real steal, or they could be wasting a first round pick. – Last Word on Hockey

Roving playmaker from the blueline with excellent speed and a superior understanding of his responsibilites as a jump-starter and attacker. Merkley is pure offense in every sense of the term, and it seems as everything he does with the puck has a cherry on top. He is a commanding presence who carries the puck as well as he dishes it out, and you can always count on him to find the open man, especially back-door and off the rush. Merkley has a quick first step, but he also shifts speeds to routinely catch opponents flat footed. It’s hard to see Guelph’s attack survive without him, as it relies heavily on his quick, crisp breakout passes that trap the most aggressive of forecheckers. He owns a hard, accurate shot with a big wind-up, Merkley gets enough mustard on long-distance wristers to force goalies to lose control of rebounds. – The Draft Analyst

AJ’s Thoughts

As my friend and colleague Andre Simone frequently says, “YouTube responsibly”. There may be no better an example in this year’s draft class than Ryan Merkley. If you simply watched his highlights, you’d think this kid was a top-flight talent pushing the likes of Quinn Hughes and Adam Boqvist as the premier puck-moving defenders in this class. His offensive talent is top-flight and his ability from the blue line in is as high as you will ever see from a first-time draft eligible prospect.

What the highlights don’t show you, however, are the problems pushing him to the bottom of the first round, at least as far as the rankings go. He suffers from an extreme case of immaturity that keeps him from playing hard or even participating at all in the defensive zone at times. He is prone to frequent controller disconnects and has major attitude issues that have caused him issues with coaches and teammates.

Highlights

Avalanche Fit

Nope. Don’t even think about it, Avalanche.

Rankings

#25 Future Considerations
#31 McKeen’s Hockey

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