Forward Will Merchant Agrees to Return for 2019-20 Season
BOISE, Idaho - Forward Will Merchant has agreed to terms with the Idaho Steelheads for the 2019-20 season, returning to the Treasure Valley for his fourth season, Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Everett Sheen announced Tuesday.
"I'm always excited to come back to Idaho," said Merchant. "It's my fourth season, and it's a place that I've learned a lot and developed. The city, the fans and everything about it has been awesome to me so far. I'm just excited to get back and have another good run."
Merchant, 25, played 70 games between the Steelheads and Greenville Swamp Rabbits last season, posting 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points with three power play goals and two shorthanded goals. The Eagan, Minn. native was acquired by the Steelheads from the Swamp Rabbits on March 5 and tallied seven points (4g, 3a) through 13 games in Idaho to close the regular season.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound forward is marking his fourth season with the Steelheads and has played every professional season in Idaho since making his debut on Oct. 14, 2016. Over the last three seasons, Merchant boasts 52 goals and 71 assists for 123 points with 18 power play goals and three shorthanded goals over 209 games, with 101 points (42g, 59a) over 152 games in a Steelheads uniform. In each of his two full seasons with the Steelheads, he has recorded 45-point seasons with a career-high 21 goals in 2016-17, and his return to Boise sparked excitement toward the end of last season.
"When I found out, I was ecstatic to come back to the place I started out with. It's always a little nerve-racking at first because it was my first time being traded, and being traded back to the team that I started with was a whirlwind. Once I got into it, it was great. I fit right in with everyone and got to come back to a competitive team."
"We're excited to have Will back for his fourth season with us," said Sheen. "He is an integral part of our core and our culture here in Idaho. He's a very talented two-way winger who can be used in every situation. He's consistent, and you know what he's going to bring every night."
Prior to joining the Steelheads, Merchant played four seasons with the University of Maine, posting 22 goals and 17 assists for 39 points through 136 games, including 22 points (13g, 9a) through 36 games during his senior season in 2015-16.
This marks the sixth player revealed by the Steelheads returning to the organization, joining defensemen Keegan Kanzig, Jeff King and Eric Sweetman as well as forwards Kyle Schempp and Captain A.J. White. Future player announcements will be made at a later date.
"With [Sheen] being our Head Coach, we both came in at the same time to this league with him as a coach and me as a player," said Merchant. "I'm excited for him; he's an awesome guy. He's done a lot in the past three years, and the guys that are returning are some of the deeper players from last year. It'll be crucial for a good start and for a long season to make a run at [the Kelly Cup]."
The Steelheads return to CenturyLink Arena on Friday, Oct. 18 for the 2019-20 Home Opener against the Wichita Thunder. Season tickets and flex plans for the 2019-20 season are now available! Call the Steelheads Front Office at 208-383-0080 to plan your seats for next season. Stay connected to the Steelheads throughout the summer on idahosteelheads.com or by following the team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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