Three seasons after being selected 9th overall by the San Jose Sharks, Timo Meier is finally having his breakout campaign. Meier split his first real NHL season between the pros and the AHL and made the jump to a full-time contributor in 2017-18. Now in 2018-19, he is contributing to a quality Sharks squad at a pace that seemed distant just one year ago.
The Sharks have had an almost identical core for the past decade. Major changes will come eventually but Meier could be the heir to replacing the likes of San Jose legends like Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. This season they are currently holding down second place in the Pacific Division and Meier has been one of the main reasons for their success.
Timo Meier’s Breakout Season Flying Under the Radar
Timo Meier was drafted in 2015 as a member of Halifax Mooseheads after his first two seasons in the QMJHL. He played his first season in Halifax the year after the Mooseheads captured their first Memorial Cup and tallied 90 points and 44 goals his draft year. Before Meier, the Mooseheads sent the likes of Nathan Mackinnon, Jonathan Drouin, and later to be drafted that year, Nikolaj Ehlers, to the NHL entry draft. All were top-10 picks. Each player had played at least 72 games NHL games and registered 38 points before Meier’s first game as a pro.
In Meier’s first two years of NHL action, he was only able to register 42 points in 105 games. Not a bad start to a career but also not nearly as high octane as his Mooseheads predecessors.
Timo Meier in Comparison to other Young Sharks
The Sharks have had a history of stud first-round rookies in the recent past — when they’ve been able to keep them around of course. Logan Couture took the NHL by storm during the 2009-10 campaign as he battled back and forth with Taylor Hall and Jeff Skinner for the NHL’s rookie of the year award. Though he was a 9th overall pick, no one expected Couture to have the season he had behind the top-end Sharks scoring stars. Next was Tomas Hertl. Hertl’s first year as a Shark was capped off with a four-goal game and highlight reel between the legs goal that will forever live in Sharks history. His season was shortened by a knee injury but his 25 points in 37 games will perhaps always live as the most memorable run by a Sharks rookie.
The biggest difference between Meier and these other two rookies in that Meier’s best quality is his shot. Ever since he was in Junior, Meier has been labelled as a pure sniper and plays the exact same style as an NHLer. In his first two years in San Jose, Meier saw limited ice time and even more limited special teams time. This limited his time hurt Meier, not allowing him the opportunities to do what made him special as a junior. He finished 2017 with six points but then in his first full year, put up 21 goals and 37 points.
He is now improving on those totals.
What’s Made 2018-19 Special for Timo Meier
Meier was bound to take a step forward in 2018-19 after gaining a full season of NHL experience last year. The jump in play was what surprised people. Something seemed different right from the get-go. Just four games into the year, Meier began a nine-game point streak. He only had points in back-to-back games five times in 2017-18. Contributing to his totals this year are nine multi-point nights and four multi-goal games. This adds up to 33 points in 31 games, just three points shy of his point total from a season ago.
The consistent production has lead Meier’s line of himself, Couture and Hertl to garner the most time together as a single unit on the Sharks. Couture leads the team in points and Hertl is having a revitalizing season, posting a points-per-game average of 0.86, his career best. On a team with so much depth scoring, Meier has been the best goal scorer leading to a spike in his ice time in all situations.
His productivity has also been among the league’s best. Meier’s points per 60 minutes of 3.71 ranks 18th in the NHL among qualifying players, and his goals per 60 ranks 8th. He has the second highest shooting percentage among Sharks with over 30 shots, on a team averaging the third most shots in the NHL. The majority of his damage is also at even strength. The Sharks have split up the powerplay into two fairly even units due to their depth.
Scoring at a point per game pace may be hard to sustain but Meier is reaching a level that not many thought he’d reach for at least a couple more years.
Sustaining His Production
It’s hard to imagine that Meier is able to keep up the pace he set and finish the season tallying over a point per game. That’s not to say it’s impossible but it won’t be easy. Scoring at the rate he is, he is only behind the likes of a select few elite players, and Meier’s growing pains will probably show themselves at some point.
For comparison, look at Ehlers numbers during his 64 point breakout season in 2016-17. Ehlers started the year slow, picking up just four points in his first 11 games but then exploded with 43 points in his next 43 games. This was then followed by a modest end to the season; including an eight-game pointless drought. This was Ehlers best season to date as he has had a lower PPGA in each of the following years.
Meier has already avoided an early season slump but consistency is always hard to come by in the NHL. So far this season he has been the picture of consistency and hasn’t once gone pointless in back-to-back games. That’s very impressive over the span of 31 games but at some point, it will come to an end. Lines get shuffled and players begin to be game planned against.
As long as Timo Meier plays close to the level he is currently at, the Sharks need to be happy with the outlook on him going forward. He gels well with his teammates, plays valuable minutes, and is scoring at will.
The Sharks have done a good job at hitting on the draft picks they’ve kept and Meier could be an All-Star more than once if he continues his development. With Thornton, Pavelski, and already Patrick Marleau, on their way out in San Jose, Meier is going to be a huge part of the Sharks franchise going forward.
Main Photo: SAN JOSE, CA – APRIL 16: Timo Meier #28 of the San Jose Sharks skates with the puck against the Edmonton Oilers in Game Three of the Western Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on April 16, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)