It’s June, so that means it’s time for another round of our annual Flames first round targets series.
This year, the club sits smack dab in the middle of round 1 with the 15th overall selection. The last time the team had a pick in this area (14th overall), they elected to trade down and pick Mark Jankowski 21st overall. And while we still can’t be certain of Jankowski’s future with the club, the collection of players the team missed due to that decision (Teuvo Teravainen, Cody Ceci, Olli Maata, Scott Laughton, Tomas Hertl, Zemgus Girgensons) suggests it wasn’t the best of maneuvers.
This time around the club has plenty of second and third round picks, so if anything they will be looking to trade up rather than down. We can safely say, then, that 15 is the latest Calgary’s first round choice will be this time around.
The first prospect we’re profiling this year is Swiss sniper Timo Meier.
The Scouting Reports
According to My NHL Draft, Meier falls at 13th overall amongst a consensus ranking of draft eligible players this year, though the buzz is he could easily be a guy who is picked in the top-10. The 6’1″ right winger is one of the heavier forwards available in the first round at 208 pounds and many scouts agree he plays a game that matches his frame.
for example, notes that Meier is always intense, hard to knock off the puck and good at cycling and around the net.
has this to say about Meier:
“Smart offensively in terms of positioning, Meier just needs to polish up his defense and play with fire consistently. Meier impresses me a lot with his offensive instincts and pure determination to be a difference maker.”
Elite Prospects adds:
A physically dominant winger with the ability to play in a skill or character role. In the offensive end, Meier is very aware and gets himself into spaces where he can easily make seeing eye passes or snap hard, accurate shots. Can impact the game in a number of different ways, and is very consistent in his efforts. All-in-all, the kind of versatile player that you can put on a skill line, and trust to create dangerous chances, or on a shutdown line, and trust to help stop pucks from going into your net.
Meier’s strengths are roundly considered to be his shot, offensive IQ and willingness to play a heavy, grinding game along the boards and in front of the net. Some scouts are somewhat worried about his defensive zone prowess, pointing to the odd blind pass or bad decision, but there are others that seem confident Meier can play up and down the line-up, be it in a scoring or shut-down role.
Meier’s weakness are typically listed as his puck handling and skating, meaning they aren’t notably above average (but aren’t bad either). He was considered below average speed wise last year, though many suggest he’s improved that area since. Still, he’ll never be considered agile.
In addition, Meier isn’t a flashy with the puck, preferring to shoot vs pass and mostly playing a straight ahead, north-south game.
Meier’s results from this year are excellent, managing 44 goals and 90 points in 61 games. By almost any angle, he put up the best results of any draft eligible forward in the QMJHL this season. His PPG pace of 1.48 and NHLe of 31 lead the league. Meier was also the only 17 year old who contributed to over 40% of his team’s point according to CHL Stats and he managed 5.33 shots on net per game, the highest of any regular skater in the league.
Those are all sterling numbers.
There are only a few caveats to keep in mind:
1.) Meier is a late 1996 birthday, meaning he’s one of the oldest guys in his draft class. That can confer a bit of an advantage over other kids.
2.) Meier’s results jumped from from 34 points last season to 90 points this year. In part, because he played with the dominant Nikolai Ehlers, who was picked 9th overall last year by the Winnipeg Jets.
3.) 52 of Meier’s 90 points were at even strength, or about 58%. That’s not a terrible ratio, but it does suggest he lived on the PP a bit. Only 19 of his 44 goals came at 5on5 as well, putting him 9th in the league by this metric (even though he’s top-3 in just about every other offensive measure).
I don’t consider these major concerns, but they are worth noting. Sometimes big jumps in points for kids in junior means a big jump in development, but sometimes it means a jump in luck and circumstances as well, which are less indicative of skill.
That said, if you follow the link for Redline Report above, they make a pretty good case that Meier’s improvement comes from idiosyncratic development, rather than just better opportunities.
Meier ticks a lot of boxes for the Flames.
He’s a RW sniper with size and a strong down low, grinding game. The Flames have a dearth of natural RWers in the organization at both forward and defense, so aside from being the potential best player available if he’s around at 15, Meier also fills an obvious need.
There’s a better than even chance that Meier will be chosen before 15th overall roles around. However, if he’s still on the board – or if the Flames somehow manage to move up a few places – it wouldn’t surprise me to hear them call his name.