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The predictions and realities of Timo Meier

Meier has come into his own lately, but how does that stack up against the expectations for him?

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2015 NHL Draft, the San Jose Sharks picked Timo Meier in the first round, ninth overall. Coming into last season’s training camp, there were many predictions that Meier would make the opening night roster, until he got sick with mononucleosis during training camp.

When he returned, many of the predictions of Meier were not shown much in his first season. He spent a lot of time of the bottom two lines, in a mostly sheltered role. Even after scoring on the first shot of his first-ever NHL game, against the Montreal Canadiens’ Vezina-winning goaltender Carey Price, he only scored two other goals and finished his rookie season with 34 games and six points.

Meier began this season with an equally slow start. However, recently he has started to show the reasons why the Sharks drafted him with their ninth selection in 2015. He very much emerged in to the power forward role that he was projected to be and that was seen briefly towards the end of last season.

The predictions of the amount of points that Meier would bring to the NHL varies, since just looking at his AHL and QMJHL numbers is not enough, due to things such as quality of teammates and level of competition. When looking at the conversions of those point totals, we see that if he maintains his scoring pace for those leagues, a good prediction would be for him to get around 30 points when playing a full 82 game season.

When using the translation factors across different leagues, it is shown that in his three seasons in the QMJHL, he would have had a points per game average of .129 in 2013-14, .369 in 2014-15, and .418 in 2015-16. When looking at these numbers over a full 82 NHL games, he would average about 25 points per season at that pace. In the AHL, he scored 23 points in 33 games which when converted to an NHL scoring pace is about .328 points per game, equaling about 27 points over a full 82 games.

This season in the NHL, he has a points per game average of .326 through 43 games. This puts him on pace for just under 27 points on the season, meaning he’s performing at the level we saw in the lower leagues.

But then there are also other parts of his game that need to be looked at, since it was expected that he would not only play a scoring role, but also physical role in the way he plays his game as a power forward.

Meier is a player who plays a physical game on the ice with 59 hits and 35 penalty minutes, third on the team in both categories, to go along with his nine goals and 14 points. The only players with more hits right now are Brenden Dillon (113) and Justin Braun (83) — both defensemen. Leading forwards in hits shows the physically that Meier implants in his game to give it more dimension, and allow him to play both a character and/or a skill role.

This role has been known to be played by Meier, since his penalty minutes have always been almost equal to his games played. This has been a consistent trend throughout his entire career, with the exception of his rookie season only having 10 penalty minutes in 34 games. The causes of these vary — while some may be “rookie mistakes” from adjusting to the NHL, there’s also plenty of times that his physicality has translated into somewhat reckless play.

Even though Meier has not found consistent linemates this season, switching between lines with either Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton, or Chris Tierney and mostly Joonas Donskoi. With him switching between what is traditionally the first line and the third line, there has been a lot of inconsistent factors that can affect his game.

People may have higher expectations for Meier, as they ninth overall picks was one of the few exciting prospects in the Sharks’ system. But he is living up to the player that was shown in juniors and through that has played well. He has been able to make an impact in other ways than scoring, and is starting to come into the power forward role that Sharks drafted him to be.