Building off a breakthrough: Timo Meier

Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to focusing on a player coming off a breakthrough year to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the San Jose Sharks.

The San Jose Sharks used the ninth overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft to select Timo Meier. He went back to the junior ranks the following season before turning pro in 2016-17. That year, he split time between the NHL and AHL. Meier had 14 goals and 23 points in 33 games in the minors, and three goals and six points in 34 games with the Sharks.

In his first year as a full-time NHLer, Meier managed to score 21 goals and 36 points in 81 contests. The 21-year-old showed that he can put the puck in the net, and it’ll be up to him to show that he can keep improving as his career advances.

Meier spent some time with Joe Pavelski on his line and the two players seem to develop some chemistry together. Of the 21 goals Meier scored last season, Pavelski assisted on six of them. Also, only three of the goals came on the man-advantage. If the Sharks commit to giving him more time on the power play, that goal total might climb even further.

Another thing that might help him is getting off to a better start. In 2017-18, Meier only had three goals in his first 28 games. In late October, the Sharks even made him a healthy scratch because of the way he was performing on the ice.

“I think power forwards take longer, I really do,” head coach Pete DeBoer said back in October, per the Mercury News. “When you look at the history of them, there’s very few guys that play that type of game that step in at 18 or 19 or 20 and are playing at that level.

[2017-18 review | Under Pressure: Kane | 3 Questions]

“It’s one of those positions that takes a little longer at this level and we’re trying to speed that process up.”

Even when he came back into the lineup the following game, it took him 10 games to get on the board again, but Meier never came out of the lineup after that point. Things seemed to take a turn for the better in December, as he scored five goals in eight games between Dec. 14-Jan. 2. He followed that up by scoring three goals in four games later on in the month of January. Meier ended the regular season by picking up four points over his final five games.

Once the postseason rolled around, he was able to up his production from 0.44 points-per-game to 0.50 points-per-game (in a smaller sample size). Meier racked up three points in four games during a first-round sweep of the Ducks, but he only managed to score a goal and an assist in six games against Vegas in round two.

But If he can start the year the way he played in the second half of last season, he could be in line for a solid campaign.

MORE: PHT Time Machine: 1991 dispersal draft and birth of the Sharks

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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