Merkley and Baillie Becoming a Key Duo For Rockets


The Kelowna Rockets are currently sitting in first place in the WHL, and are also tied for  2nd in points in the entire CHL. This great start to the season has been largely because of centers Nick Merkley and Tyson Baillie.

Nick Merkley is playing his second year in the WHL. Last year he was a Rookie of the Year winner thanks to his 25 goal performance during the regular season, and the 17 points he produced in the playoffs. His 19 points are third in the league, and the 16 assists he has collected are the most by any player in the WHL this year.

Although he is only 11 games in, saying Nick Merkley will finish in the top 5 in the WHL in points isn’t crazy. Only good things can come from playing on a successful lineup like the Kelowna Rockets have. Merkley is great with his hands and can really make his way around defenders to make plays.

Merkley has an array of options when looking to dish the puck to a teammate, and one of his better options is center Tyson Baillie. Baillie is leading the WHL in goals with 10 goals in 11 games. He was eligible for the 2014 entry draft, but went undrafted, but the San Jose Sharks organization took a flyer on him and signed him as an undrafted free agent.

Baillie is a young, and hard-working player who has underrated offensive skill. Last year Baillie was a point short of being a point a game player through 56 games. Baillie also had a decent playoff performance when he was again a point away from being a point a game player scoring 13 through 14.

The Sharks really have an undervalued player in Baillie. It’s too bad that he wasn’t drafted in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Look for Baillie to take a run up the Sharks prospects rankings the next couple of years. He should be a good fit for the soon to be falling apart Sharks roster. Baillie should have been drafted because he would make any teams prospect squad better.

The Kelowna Rockets have a special pair in Tyson Baillie and Nick Merkley. One player has just begun is CHL career, and the other should be at the end of theirs. These two players should have pretty good NHL careers. There no Gustav Nyquist, who just come out of nowhere, but they should have impacts on the teams that they do finally play for during their NHL careers.

Nick Merkley is expected to go in the later first round, so it would be something if the Sharks have a pretty good year and do pick up the 2nd half of this Kelowna Rockets pair. It is also a certain possibility that Nick Merkley climbs up the draft board. Whatever happens, it will certainly be interesting to see where he’ll end up.