Timo Meier’s Power Game Should Compliment Sharks’ Skill At Forward
SAN JOSE — Timo Meier’s power game proved to be the perfect compliment to the Halifax Mooseheads’ skill in the Canadian junior hockey leagues last season.
By selecting him with the ninth overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft, the San Jose Sharks are hoping that he eventually performs a similar role alongside the likes of Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl.
With their highest first-round pick since 2007, the Sharks drafted the 18-year-old power forward at the NHL entry draft in South Florida on Friday and the Swiss native said he’s planning to show his new squad that he’s ready to play in NHL.
“Definitely,” Meier said, when asked if he will be entering training camp with the mindset of earning a spot on the Sharks opening-night roster. “I want to work [to show] that I deserve this opportunity to make the team and go to camp and show my best.”
The Sharks selected Meier after the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets drafted the top two defenseman on the board, Ivan Provorov and Zach Werenski, with the seventh and eighth picks. While the Sharks were rumored to be interested in a defenseman at No.9, general manager Doug Wilson said last week that one benefit of drafting a wingman is they can integrate into the NHL much faster than a blue liner, especially if the team is deep at the center ice position.
As a tough power forward, Meier could certainly fill a glaring void in the Sharks’ roster.
“He’s a big-powerful kid, offensive skills, he can play in all three zones,” Wilson said.
At 6-foot-1, roughly 210 pounds, power defines Meier’s game. He’s known for being a straight-line player, who isn’t afraid to get physical in the corners and clean up the garbage around the net.
Meier, whom many pundits considered to be the most NHL-ready wingman available in the draft, is also said have an exceptional shot.
“I’m a power forward,” Meier said. “I have a good shot. I like to play physical. I like to drive to the net.”
In Halifax, he skated alongside Winnipeg Jets prospect Nik Ehlers, helping him finish third in the QMJHL in scoring last season by creating space for his skill on the ice.
Meier said his power game complimented Ehlers’ speed and skill.
“We worked very well together,” he said. “Both styles of our game.”
But Meier wasn’t just a sidekick to Ehlers, showing a penchant for offensive production himself by finishing 11th in the QMJHL in scoring with 90 points (44g, 46a) in 61 games. At one point, he strung together a 27-game scoring streak, recording 51 points during that span.
Meier also displayed a knack for elevating his game under pressure, ranking second in the Canadian Hockey League in game-winning goals (10) and finishing the postseason with 21 (10g, 11a) points in 14 games.
At the World Junior Championships in Toronto, Meier’s clutch play was on display again as he managed to collect six points (2g, 4a) in six games for Team Switzerland. Meier also picked up a goal and two assists while playing on a line with No.1 pick Connor McDavid in the CHL prospects game.
“Those big games are always a chance for yourself to show what you have,” Meier said.
But some scouts expressed concerns with Meier’s quickness prior to the draft, others questioned whether his production in Halifax was a product of skating alongside skilled players, like Ehlers last season and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin two years ago.
Meier also struggled during his first season with the Mooseheads in 2013-14, scoring 34 points in 66 games. But it was Meier’s first season in North America and he adjusted quickly, establishing himself as a legitimate NHL prospect in year two.
While Meier will arrive in San Jose without having ever touched foot in California, the presence of countrymate Mirco Mueller, whom he played with at the World Junior Championships last winter, should help ease the transition.
The 18-year-old said he spoke with Mueller about the Sharks organization prior to the draft.
“He told me it’s a really good organization, the fans are incredible and it’s just a really good organization to be in,” Meier said.
Meier left his native country for North America as a 15-year-old with the hopes of one day playing in the NHL. The Swiss native said he’s honored that the Sharks are giving him a chance to make his dream a reality.
“I’m really happy,” he said. “But there’s a lot of work to be done to play in the NHL.”
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