Don’t close the book yet on Timo Meier.
His goal, in last night’s San Jose Sharks’ 5-4 OT loss to Arizona, was a taste of his immense talent.
TIMO TIME FOR THE LEAD ⏰ pic.twitter.com/zD4lkvRaPc
— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) May 9, 2021
“Using that frame, exposing people with the speed. I like how he dropped his leg, his inside leg, and he cut to the middle. It’s tough to stop,” Bob Boughner offered. “It’s something that we would love to see more of. It’s a good way to finish the season for him. He’s got two in his last three, sort of Timo-style goals.”
Meier agreed: “I know myself. That’s my strength. So I gotta use it more.”
Okay, so Meier may never be Mikko Rantanen or Mat Barzal, the two stars chosen after Meier went eighth in the 2015 NHL Draft. There’s nothing wrong with that: Meier can still be a great player in his own right.
It’s not that far away for the 24-year-old winger. In fact, it’s just two years away – or ago – that Meier scored 30 goals. Since then, however, and accounting for the last two seasons being shortened, Meier has dropped to a 25-goal 82-game pace last year and a 19-goal pace this season.
That doesn’t seem to be a blueprint for long-term success, plateauing as a 22-year-old. But what if Meier hasn’t actually plateaued?
For what it’s worth: It happens, seemingly plateauing at an early age, struggling for a season or two, then getting back on track.
Off the top of my head, Nathan MacKinnon is a good example. Now I’m not saying Meier is MacKinnon. But remember, MacKinnon burst into the league in 2013-14 and won the Calder Trophy, averaging 0.77 Points Per Game. The sky appeared to be the limit for him then. But over the next three years, he averaged a combined 0.66 Points Per Game, before exploding in 2017-18 for a 1.31 Points Per Game, a pace he’s sustained since then.
Jonathan Huberdeau is another example. In 2012-13, Huberdeau took the Calder Trophy with a 0.65 Points Per Game, before slumping to 0.41 in his sophomore campaign. He’s rebounded since, averaging over a Point Per Game over his last three seasons.
Point is: Sometimes, it takes a player some extra time to really figure it out. Development isn’t always a linear path.
Yes, it’s disturbing that Meier has flopped in back-to-back seasons, especially since he was counted on to be a go-to scorer. But if you believe in his talent? There’s still time for him to get back on track.
It’s not the worst bet. And what other choice do the San Jose Sharks have, but to continue to try to get the best out of the 24-year-old?
Sure, they can try to trade him, but they won’t get anything close to his potential value. He’s struggled too much over the last two years. Nobody’s trading you Jack Eichel for Meier, for example – probably not even in a package.
When you own a depreciating asset, you have to know when to hold, when to fold. Consider that Meier is just 24, has a 30-goal campaign under his belt, and can still score goals like last night’s – is it time to fold yet?
What an individual effort by Timo. That's why you don't trade him for 3 quarters on the dollar this summer
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) May 9, 2021
Simply put: Meier’s trade value is low right now, but the once-tapped 30-goal talent is still there and he’s young enough to still access it.
I’m not suggesting that Meier is in any way untouchable, but be real, what are you getting for him and his $6 million annual ticket this summer? And is that worth more than his potential? Probably not.
Balcers Has Important Summer Ahead
Boughner called Rudolfs Balcers’s performance on Friday “okay” and dropped him a line last night. Balcers responded with a goal, just his third point in his last 15 games.
“It’s another young guy that has probably played with a schedule [with] more hockey than he’s ever been used to,” Boughner volunteered. “You can tell some of these guys are hitting a little bit of a wall, physically and mentally.”
The San Jose Sharks winger admitted: “I usually come in feeling really good at the start of season. As the season goes on, you kind of get a little worn out.”
“Once Rudy goes back in the offseason and trains and puts on a little more muscle and comes back after three months and gets a regular training camp, I think you’re gonna see an even better Rudy,” Boughner said. “He’s made major strides.”
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