SAN JOSE – When Timo Meier was reassigned to his junior team during last year’s Sharks training camp he left an indelible impression on head coach Pete DeBoer. It wasn’t just Meier’s observable skill and physicality that impressed DeBoer, but the then 18-year-old’s overall approach towards his first taste of skating with NHL players.
“The nice thing that I liked, he didn’t show too much respect for the level. He came in and played his game,” DeBoer said last September. “He had five or six hits the last [preseason] game, and ran at a couple veteran guys in [the intra-squad] game. That doesn’t happen very often, so that shows you that he came in here and tried to make the team. That’s a great quality for him moving forward.”
As a part of Sharks rookie camp, which got underway on Thursday at the team’s practice facility, Meier is ready for another shot at making the big club when NHL camp opens in one week. The 2015 ninth overall draft pick’s attitude hasn’t changed.
“I want to do the same thing I did last year in training camp,” said the winger. “Show up and be ready to steal someone’s job, you know? Just do whatever it takes to make the roster.”
Barracuda coach Roy Sommer is overseeing the rookies, and he and his staff will be behind the bench this weekend in Colorado when the Sharks youngsters compete in games against the Ducks and Avalanche prospects. Meier, who had a hat trick in an intra-squad scrimmage at prospect camp in July, figures to play big minutes.
Sommer is impressed with the six-foot, 210-pound Swiss native.
“He’s got all the ingredients that [DeBoer] likes,” Sommer said. “He plays hard, he’s big, he’s quick, he’s got a great work ethic and a high compete level. There’s not a lot he’s missing I think, except experience.”
Meier got some good experience in his last season in junior.
Individually, he continued to pile up points with 34 goals and 53 assists in just 52 games with Halifax and Rouyn-Noranda, which acquired him in a midseason trade. He also found success at the team level, as Rouyn-Noranda won a QMJHL championship and advanced to the final of the Memorial Cup.
“I think I matured,” Meier said. “I was able to go through some experiences in my last year of junior. I had a good run, won a championship in the [QMJHL] and went to the Memorial Cup. Those things brought me something.”
While Meier has his eye on an NHL job, he’ll have to out-compete some of his fellow youngsters, too. Fellow former first rounder Nikolay Goldobin is one year older, Swedish import Marcus Sorensen looks to be a player, and Kevin Labanc led the OHL in scoring last season with 127 points in just 65 games.
“There’s a lot of guys that could push for jobs, especially at the forward position,” Sommer said.
One hole that may need to be filled is on the left side of Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski line. Tomas Hertl will likely get another chance to play center in training camp, and Meier could fill that void that Hertl leaves at left wing.
Just like Hertl, Meier plays a power forward-type game.
"I want to get inside and I want to win battles, make some room for my linemates and the team," he said. "I want to be a physical player, play a hard game, but be smart. You want to produce, but you want to help your team.”
Does Meier believe he’s ready to play at the NHL level?
“Oh yeah, for sure. I worked hard all summer, so now I’m here and I want to deserve a job.”