Coming into the season, many considered Timo Meier to be the next big thing in San Jose. He was a projected lock to make the big club, but a case of mononucleosis put him on the shelf for the first month of the campaign and the Sharks opted to send him to the Barracuda when he was healthy rather than get him back up to speed at the NHL level.
After putting some time in with the Cuda, Meier finally earned his shot with the Sharks and got his career in teal started off with a bang, scoring on his first career shot in his first career NHL game against All-World goalie Carey Price. Despite showing flashes of the talent that earned him the ninth overall pick in the 2015 Draft, Meier couldn’t put together consistent enough play to make a noticeable impact on the scoresheet throughout his 34 games at the NHL level. He finished with just six points (three goals, three assists), which isn’t good enough for someone drafted as highly as Meier was, no matter what kind of flashes you may have seen from him.
Now all this isn’t to say that Meier is a bust, as his experience could prove fruitful down the line. This season, more than any other in recent memory, the Sharks brass decided to see what Sharks had in their farm system. This new philosophy bred the emergence of young Sharks throughout the entire lineup with the likes of Kevin Labanc, Marcus Sorensen, Dylan DeMelo, Mirco Mueller, Meier, and Aaron Dell all getting extended auditions that proved mightily fruitful and may ultimately spell the end of an era in San Jose with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau’s futures with the team up in the air.
2016-17 Sharks 5v5 Usage Chart (via Corsica Hockey)
ZSR: Zone Start Ratio; The percentage of non-neutral zone starts that are offensive zone starts (OZS/(OZS + DZS))
TOI.QoT: Time On Ice Quality of Teammates; The weighted average TOI% of a player’s teammates
Rel.CF%: Individual corsi-for percentage subtracted by the team’s overall corsi-for percentage.
Timo Meier Rolling 5-game score, zone, and venue-adjusted average CF% (via Corsica Hockey)
You’ve gotta give it to the kid, he made a hell of a debut against one of the elite goalies in this league. Meier did exactly what you have to do in the NHL to put pucks in the net and set up right in front of Carey Price providing a nice screen, waited for a rebound, and put it home.
Look for a lot more out of this from Meier in the years to come, as he plays bigger than he is and maintains the finesse that got him taken in the top third of the draft.
Think of this season as a redshirt for Meier and the bevy of other young Sharks that got their beaks wet in the Tank this year.
Meier has a massive ceiling that could easily see him become a regular 20+ goal scorer in this league but he will have to show the dedication to greatness that the game deserves. There is a great but rare opportunity to bring in a new wave of talent to a historically successful franchise without skipping a beat, and Meier is at the forefront of that wave.