FT. LAUDERDALE -– Timo Meier had an inkling he might end up going to the Sharks in Friday night’s first round at BB&T Center. So much so, that the right wing blew up fellow Switzerland native Mirco Mueller’s phone to inquire about the organization that he had met with multiple times.
What did Mueller, who was himself taken two years ago in the first round by San Jose, tell Meier?
“It’s a beautiful city. The fans are amazing. The whole organization is just really good, and I’m really excited to get started,” said Meier, minutes after the Sharks made him the ninth overall selection in the NHL Entry Draft.
Meier was the fourth straight European taken in the first round by San Jose, joining Mueller, Tomas Hertl in 2012, and Nikolay Goldobin last year. He spent the last two seasons in Halifax, coming to North America before the 2013-14 QMJHL season.
He’s also familiar with Sharks prospect Noah Rod, a second-round pick in 2014 that played on a line with Meier in the most recent World Junior Championships for Switzerland.
The 6-foot-1, 209-pound Meier considers himself “a power forward that likes to take pucks to the net. I’m a physical player. I use my size, and I have a good shot.”
He tallied 44 goals with Halifax last season, including 23 on the power play. Considering his size, it’s a good bet that many of those power play goals came with him battling for position and splashing in rebounds in front of the net.
Like just about every other prospect in this year’s draft not named Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, Meier is unlikely to make the Sharks out of training camp. He admitted that he has work to do in the defensive zone, and would like to get bigger and faster.
“In every aspect, I want to get better,” he said.
“The NHL is grown men. You’ve got to be strong, and you’ve got to be fast. All those things I want to improve on.”
Meier got into hockey having grown up close to a rink in a town that is about 60 miles from Zurich. After his neighbor started playing, he “fell in love with the game.”
“The [Swiss] leagues are getting better and they’ve done a really good job,” Meier said.
An interesting tidbit about Meier unrelated to hockey is that the 18-year-old is fluent in four languages -– Swiss, French, English and German.
He’ll likely get to use three of those on a regular basis should he earn a place in the Sharks’ dressing room -– English for his coaches and the media, French during trips to Montreal and Ottawa, and Swiss for his buddy Mueller, who he planned on hitting up again after going through rigmarole that the league puts its first round picks through.
“We’ll have a chat, that’s for sure,” Meier said.