Until the NHL Entry Draft, the following six articles will be published on swisshockeynews.ch:
1) Midterm Draft Rankings
2) Final Draft Rankings (spring 2015)
3) A-Level prospect: Timo Meier (June)
4) B-Level prospects: Denis Malgin & Jonas Siegenthaler (June)
5) Mid-to-late rounders: Fora, Suter & more (June)
6) 2015 NHL Entry Draft - McEichel and beyond (June)
Timo Meier is our biggest hope in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. When he posted "only" 34 points in his first season in North America, no one expected the Swiss winger to go early in this year’s draft. After a phenomenal breakout season this year, he rose in the draft rankings and quickly garnered the scouts' attention - today he even gets mentioned as a possible top ten pick after the "Big 5" (McDavid, Eichel, Hanifin, Strome, Marner) among players who were early favorites to get picked in the first round like Crouse, Provorov & Rantanen.
Meier was born in Herisau (AR) on October 08, 1996. He grew up playing for his hometown club SC Herisau, posting as many as 65 points in only 13 games at the U15 level and 24 points in 20 games with the U17 team in 2009-10. He made the jump to Pikes Oberthurgau the following year and developed further at the U15 and U17 level for another two seasons to earn his first national team appearances in 2011-12 (15 games played-13 goals-3 assists-16 points). He made another switch to Rapperswil for the 2012-13 season, where he excelled at the Novizen Top level (2.8 points-per-game) and got 33 games with the Elite A Jr. team (30 points), while also making his international debuts at both the U17 and U18 level and played in his first U18 World Junior Championships.
His strong season caught the Halifax Mooseheads attention, who selected him 12th overall in the 2013 CHL Import Draft.
He joined the Mooseheads in 2013-14 following their record-setting campaign (Presidents Cup and Memorial Cup winners), that ended in dynamic Mooseheads-duo Nathan Mackinnon and Jonathan Drouin getting picked first and third overall by Colorado and Tampa Bay, while goaltender Zach Fucale was the first netminder to go off the board at 36 (Montreal). The Swiss winger spent his rookie season in a sheltered role out of the spotlight and scored 17 goals along with 17 assists in 66 regular season games. The Mooseheads' postseason run was cut short by the eventual champions Val d'Or. Timo Meier contributed a total of four points (1-3-4) in 12 games.
Jonathan Drouin decided to turn pro for the 2014-15 season and left the Mooseheads with a huge void on their top line for the second year in a row. After Nikolaj Ehlers in 2013-14, it was Timo Meier who wasn't afraid of the big boots he had to fill and moved up to Halifax' first line. He scored a team-leading 44 goals (23 goals on the PP, a franchise record) and was second on the team with 46 assists for 90 points in 61 games. He was in the top 10 in the Q in goals (10) and points (21) in the playoffs and also recorded a point per game for Switzerland at the World Juniors (2-4-6). He was not only scoring at an impressive rate, he also was one of the CHL's most consistent scorers with points in 27 consecutive games (tied for second with consensus first overall pick Connor McDavid), bested only by team- and linemate Nikolaj Ehlers who set a new franchise record with at least a point in 33 games in a row. His productive season not only got Meier an invite to the CHL's Top Prospects game, but also prompted coach Bobby Orr to put him on Team Orr's top line alongside center Connor McDavid and right wing Travis Konecny. The line combined for three goals and three assists in a 6-0 win with Meier accounting for a goal and two helpers.
While playing in an offense-first league and getting the benefit of having great linemates in former 9th overall pick Nik Ehlers at Halifax, former 11th overall pick Kevin Fiala on the Swiss national team and Connor McDavid at the Top Prospects game, Meier's numbers are not just a by-product of their offensive skill. He elevated their game just as much as they boosted his and convinced scouts of his abilities. He gets labelled as a two-way forward with potential to successful play in either a scoring or a shutdown role at NHL level due to his powerful, left-handed shot, his good instincts in the offensive zone and his willingness to play defense. All-in-all, scouts see him as a safe pick due to his good size, maturity and professional attitude, as well as a lot of potential to still get better.
"What do Nikolai Ehlers, Kevin Fiala and Connor McDavid all have in common? All were beneficiaries of playing alongside the 6-1, 209-pound forward at some point this season. Meier skates well and doesn't hesitate to use a strong shot that helped him score 44 goals in 61 games, but also knows how to set up his linemates; he was second on Halifax with 46 assists." -- Adam Kimelman of NHL.com.
"The Hockey News" projects him as a scoring winger at NHL level and has him ranked at number 13 in their draft ranking. TSN's Craig Button has even higher hopes for him and ranks Meier as 8th best prospect, while comparing him to future Hall of Fame candidate and current Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa as a scoring contributor with great awareness in his own zone. The consensus range for Meier seems to be between 11 and 15, while some say he might go as early as #6 if a team in need of scoring is convinced by his all-around abilities as opposed to the raw talent of higher-ranked forwards.
His closest comparables in this year’s draft are Lawson Crouse (OHL Kingston Frontenacs), Mikko Rantanen (SM-Liiga TPS Turku) and Evgeny Svechnikov (QMJHL Cape Breton Screaming Eagles). While all those players are bigger than Meier (6'1", 209 pounds), a team in need of a scoring winger might opt for Meier. Crouse had a limited season due to injuries and suspensions, while Rantanen played in Europe and had a disappointing showing at the World Juniors in December. Svechnikov had a good season, but has the downside of the "Russian factor" - teams fear the possibility of a russian-born player bolting to the KHL instead of signing with the team.
Devils, Avalanche, Panthers, Stars, Flames
The author's prediction:
The Florida Panthers select Timo Meier with the 11th overall pick.