Dawson Mercer
Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

The rookie forward shined in New Jersey’s only game of the week.

Week 18 was a brief one for the New Jersey Devils.

They played just one game, against the Tampa Bay Lightning, on Tuesday and are off until next Thursday. As has been the case too often this season, this was another heartbreaking loss for the Devils.

They blew an impressive 2-1 lead and although they were able to score three goals against the reigning back-to-back champions, goaltending let them down once again.

Although the Devils ended up losing the game 6-3, the rookie Dawson Mercer gave his team and the fans something to smile about.

(Check out last week’s player of the week and honorable mentions here.)

Player of the Week: RW Dawson Mercer 

vs. TBL: 1 G, 2 A
Game Score: 2.05
Defensive impact: -1.09

Mercer was, by far, the team’s best player against Tampa Bay. He was the only player in the game, on either side, to record three points and contributed directly to each of the Devils’ goals.

Mercer played a poor defensive game, but so did practically all of his teammates, and his outstanding offensive play made up for it.

After starting off the season on the highest of notes as one-third of the team’s best line, Mercer cooled down for a few months. He never really looked bad, at least not for long stretches, but didn’t pack the same punch as he did earlier on.

Over the past few weeks, head coach Lindy Ruff has opted to use Mercer on the wings as well as at his natural position, center.

Mercer’s play has improved significantly since and he’s looked much better when he gets time on the wing. Confirmation of this fact? Mercer played right wing against the Lightning when he looked so fantastic.

His recent play has definitely warranted more time on the wing and the Devils are lucky to have such a versatile player, who’s been praised for his ability to play all three forward positions since his junior days.

Leen has written about the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and international soccer. She is currently the primary NHL writer for ESNY. Leen's work has been featured on Bleacher Report and she was formerly a contributor for FanSided's New York Mets blog, Rising Apple. She is a co-host of the Yankees-Mets Express podcast.