And there we were. After a disappointing 2014-2015 season (to put it lightly), the San Jose Sharks had their highest draft selection in almost 10 years. When Gary Bettman called the Shark's brain trust to the stage, there were many great options still on the board at ninth overall. Big-bodied Finnish forward Mikko Rantanen, Michigan-bound Kyle Connor, and playmaking wizard Mathew Barzal piqued my interest.
After a somewhat awkward exchange between Bettman and Sharks head scout Tim Burke, Burke went right to the podium. This was it. This was the moment of excitement. The team needed a new offensive catalyst. The pick is in.
"And with our pick, from Halifax, Timo Meier".
Many were upset.
Some were downright furious.
The team needed an offensive dynamo. If not that they needed a big-minute-blueliner. Instead they get a forward that has only proved to thrive when playing with other star talent. I’ll admit it, Meier was not the player at the top of my draft board for our selection. In fact, he was not in my top three.
And while many fans were initially disappointed, Meier has silenced the critics.
After the draft, Meier was signed to an NHL Entry Level Contract almost immediately. He made an appearance at both the Sharks’ development camp and their main camp. With Nikolaj Ehlers securing a spot on the Winnipeg Jets roster, Timo Meier was now the main offensive threat on a bottom of the barrel Halifax Mooseheads team. No longer playing second fiddle, Meier took full advantage of his role as Halifax's offensive focal point.
In the 23 games he played with the Mooseheads, until his trade to Memorial-Cup-bound Rouyn Noranda, Meier scored 11 goals, and tacked on 23 assists. He looked dominant in most appearances (consistency was still an issue) and started to sway me toward the side of optimism.
And while Meier had a disappointing World Junior showing, he got a great opportunity at a title when he was traded to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies at the QMJHL trade deadline. And while Meier was no longer the "go to guy," he still kept the pace up by netting 51 points in 29 regular season games. He also notched 23 points in 18 playoff games. About to play for the Memorial Cup, Meier has spent the season making his detractors look foolish. Here is my scouting report on him.
Timo Meier is a physical goal-scoring forward with a decent amount of finesse mixed in. Meier will find a myriad of ways to get on the score sheet and he isn’t afraid to be involved in the physical side of the game. He has improved massively over the last few years and will look to start a new chapter amongst the professional ranks next season.
Meier is a relatively mobile player. He owns above average acceleration and mobility, and he has a decent first step. He does an excellent job at using his large frame and skating to create space or drive the net. He has improved his east-west skating, and is incredibly strong on his skates and hard to knock off of the puck. He could, however, stand to add an ‘extra gear’ and obtain a faster skating speed with the puck. Meier also has some trouble creating separation between himself and the defenders in the neutral zone. I have full confidence that these issues will be resolved through NHL coaching.
Meier is a dynamic offensive player. He possesses tantalizing offensive instincts and positioning and he has the skills to make himself successful. Meier plays an up-tempo game and boasts an acute hockey sense. He does his best work in and around the slot, but excels below the goal line as well. Meier has excellent puck skills, and his vision and passing abilities for a goal-scorer are top notch. I truly think that his passing abilities can become his best offensive asset.
He will need to rely on his teammates in order for his playmaking potential to be realized. Meier’s shot is like a laser. He gets excellent velocity and power behind his shot, and his release is deceptive. He does an excellent job at finding open ice and shooting lanes, and he excels at zone entries. However, his shot selection is poor. He needs to pick the corners more and increase the quality in his shots. For an NHL comparable in shot selection, think of Evander Kane. Meier will shoot from anywhere.
One area in which Meier truly excels is his compete level. He is a tenacious and persistent forechecker and is improving his consistency as a back checker. His defensive positioning is solid and he saw time on the penalty kill this year. He could stand to be a bit more active in the defensive zone at even strength. He leaves it all on the ice and is willing to stand up for his teammates or block shots.
Hitting is a strength of his game as well, as he has no issue with plastering opposing skaters along the boards. When he’s not hitting, he uses his size and low center of gravity to out-muscle and outwork players along the boards. I really like how he uses his size to establish his presence and retrieve the puck with ease. As mentioned before, sometimes he tries to do a bit too much on his own, but he has improved drastically in this category in the past few months.
Meier has the potential to be a valuable player on an NHL team’s offense. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be a contributing NHL player. What makes him so special is he can adapt to most situations. This year he displayed an ability to be successful regardless of the caliber of his linemates. I expect him to start in the AHL next year with the San Jose Barracuda, but the Sharks may want him up with the big club immediately.