If Timo Meier can make the San Jose Sharks, he could be a shot in the arm to franchise player Patrick Marleau…
Timo Meier could help the San Jose Sharks in two ways by making the roster for the 2016-17 NHL season. He could boost their forward depth and in the process recharge the career of all-time franchise player Patrick Marleau.
San Jose’s forward depth was better than each Western Conference foe during the 2016 Stanley Cup finals run. Having Meier make the roster after adding Mikkel Boedker would give this team three legitimate scoring lines.
Eric Gilmore of NHL.com laid out many reasons Meier is legitimately aiming to make the roster in a column that appeared on the team page Thursday, July 21. The rookie was one of the shining stars of development camp.
Just by Meier making the roster there will be more forwards capable of producing than other teams can match up against. When Marleau’s play started to knock him down to the third line last spring, there often was not enough talent to work with him.
Right now, the Sharks would be smart to keep the first line together (Tomas Hertl–Joe Thornton–Joe Pavelski). Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi worked very well together on the second line and Boedker is a natural fit on that left wing for his speed and scoring ability.
That means Marleau is likely to have to play on the third line. He may not be happy with that and those issues last autumn may have contributed to reports that he wanted to be traded, but allowing him to play the pivot—where he has played most of his life—might help.
Marleau is actually suited for a checking-line center role. He has been among San Jose’s hit leaders on the scoring lines for years and has worked hard to become a defensive asset. He also has the skating ability to handle some of the tougher assignments.
It will help that he will still get time on the power play; bolstering his scoring should help his morale. If his full-strength role is diminished, he is still a good enough skater to also be used on the penalty kill. Getting similar ice time and probably being hailed for his sacrifice would help to not only increase his value but his satisfaction in the role.
What can help even more is the opportunities that will come with the supporting talent. Right now Joel Ward—already having shown great chemistry with Marleau during the 2015-16 NHL season—would line up on his right wing. Put Meier on his left wing and this line has three potential 20-goal scorers.
Meier is also a good match with San Jose’s all-time forward because of his combination of speed and size. Ward provided the latter and Matt Nieto the former while working well at times with Marleau last season, but neither have the rookie’s combination of assets.
Being one of two veterans on a line with an outstanding rookie has a way of giving an aging player jump, too. Meier’s enthusiasm should provide that line all the energy it needs to be successful, and a shot in the arm could be just what Marleau needs to remain and impact player as he pushes for 500 goals and the Hall of Fame.