Timo Meier has been in William Eklund’s shoes.
In the fall of 2015, an 18-year-old Meier, fresh off being selected ninth-overall by the San Jose Sharks in that year’s NHL Draft, came to camp with hopes of making the big club.
Meier lasted until the end of September, when he was sent back to the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads.
“Timo had an impressive camp. He showed everyone why we selected him where we did,” then-head coach Peter DeBoer offered. “He has a nice blend of power, speed and skill and he has a really bright future.”
Meier has fulfilled some of his promise since then, scoring 30 goals during the 2018-19 season and 88 over a five-year career.
Can Eklund surpass Meier’s initial foray in San Jose? The seventh-overall pick of 2021 Draft has survived the first test: Today, the San Jose Sharks’ training camp roster was reduced to 46 players. Eklund was one of the 46.
When Meier got cut in 2015, that left the San Jose Sharks with 26 players.
“In that situation, you obviously want to play in the NHL,” Meier recalled. “But going back and winning the QMJHL was definitely a really nice experience. I think it definitely helped me at that time. That decision that they made, I tried to make the best out of that and learn during that year.”
So it’s not all doom and gloom if Eklund doesn’t make the San Jose Sharks this time around. Midway through the 2015-16 campaign, Halifax traded Meier to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, where the bulldozing winger got to experience Memorial Cup action.
The next season, Meier split time between the Barracuda and the Sharks, and he hasn’t looked back since.
This extra North American seasoning also allowed the Swiss-born Meier to get accustomed to the smaller ice: “On the bigger ice, you have more chance to beat the defense one-on-one because you have more more room. Here, everything happens tight, the decisions you got to make in the defensive zone as well. That’s a big part of play away from the puck too.
“Stuff happens faster.”
For Eklund, who’s skated his entire career in Sweden, a little time with the smaller ice, even in the AHL, probably won’t hurt. Whatever happens, Meier is confident that the San Jose Sharks have picked a winner.
“He’s gonna develop into a really good hockey player — I mean, he already is,” Meier said of Eklund, who he played with yesterday in Las Vegas. “He showed yesterday that he can contribute and make some plays out there. He’s gonna be a really big part of this organization.”
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