After one of the worst franchise finishes in recent memory, the San Jose Sharks went into the 2015 NHL Draft with their highest selection since 2009. This was a big draft for the organization not only because of the quality of the 9th overall pick in this highly-touted draft class, but because of the sheer abundance of picks the team had to try and turn their tides of fortune around.
The prospect pool is well on the rise, especially after a big 2014 draft. With youngsters Chris Tierney, Barclay Goodrow, Tomas Hertl, Martin Jones and Melker Karlsson fortifying a solid core, and some higher profile prospects like Nikolay Goldobin and Mirco Mueller along the way, this is a team with the potential to get back into the thick of things.
General Manager Doug Wilson and his scouting staff left no stone unturned this past season. In an attempt to find real treasures, and get extreme value at the draft, the Sharks looked to some of the less trendy leagues of the world with their picks. Apart from their two big picks from the QMJHL, and the selection of a 19-year old WHL player, the team made selections from the BCHL, NAHL, Russia, Norway, and two American high schools. These are the kind of places that not a lot of people are looking: the proverbial rough in which to find diamonds. This adventurous, almost gutsy, scouting initiative has the potential to make this draft one worth remembering despite the fact the team took a lot of unknowns – it could also backfire.
Timo Meier, RW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
1st Round, 9th overall
Height: 6-2 Weight: 209 lbs
The Sharks’ draft began with uncertainty. When the high profile defenders came off the board, it was apparent the team would go with a forward – but which forward drew much debate. The team ultimately decided to go with intelligence and heart above anything else (a quintessential factor in a Sharks pick) and drafted big Swiss forward Timo Meier. The Halifax Mooseheads product does everything above average, but what he really gives is unrelenting hustle you don’t necessarily see from a lot of top prospects with the offensive skillset Meier has. This player never gives up and finds a way to beat defenders every shift. Sharks fans are going to love him.
The winger has a very mature offensive toolkit that he put on display in the QMJHL where he scored 44 goals and added 46 assists for 90 points in 61 games. The goal total was highest in the QMJHL among draft-eligible players–and tied Mitchell Marner’s and Connor McDavid’s goal output in the OHL. Critics argue that Meier’s success on the scoresheet is partially a by-product of linemate Nikolaj Ehlers (coincidentally also drafted ninth overall – by Winnipeg in 2014). While the two had tremendous chemistry, Meier’s power game was equally beneficial to Ehlers. The two are great friends and Meier believes that his major jump from last season came by being around his friend: “you can learn a lot in practice from those types of players.”
At the Sharks prospect camp this month, Meier was greeted by two familiar faces: fellow countrymen Mirco Mueller and Noah Rod. The three have dubbed themselves the “Swiss Mafia.” Meier knows both from their time at the U20 World Championships. “It’s really nice to know someone there.” This sense of comfort should help Meier establish himself early.
When asked when he thinks he would be ready to play for the Sharks, the well-spoken Meier said, “the decision to come over to play in the CHL is because I have the goal to play in the NHL. My goal is to be ready for next season. It’s still a long way, but I know if you work hard, you can deserve that spot.”
Meier said he plans on working on his skating and strength over the off-season. Look for the Swiss youngster to leapfrog Nikolay Goldobin and get a limited tryout with the big club in October.
Jeremy Roy, D, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
2nd Round, 31st overall
Height: 6-0, Weight: 188 lbs
The Sharks made a big splash on Day Two of the draft by acquiring the first pick of the second round in order to select Jeremy Roy. It was a move that spoke to just how much the organization liked the Sherbrooke Phoenix defenseman. “It’s definitely great, just having a team moving up for you, you think they really want you. It’s a great feeling.” said Roy.
What made the move particularly surprising though, was the fact that the Sharks had barely met with Roy. “They didn’t talk to me a lot. I was surprised they drafted me,” said Roy who added “I didn’t have the best interview.” It seems the organization puts a lot more emphasis on a player’s complete resume and work on the ice than the meet and greet.
Roy is a speedy two-way defender who models his game after Drew Doughty. His skating, while above average, is still a point of concern for himself and he feels he needs to get faster and more explosive. “I’m seeing a specialist,” he said.
The offensively-gifted defenseman has a legitimate opportunity to one day play in the NHL, especially if he further develops his shot from the point to make him a true power play threat. What could hold him back, and could have been the reason he fell out of the first round, is his size. He’s listed at 6’0’’ but it was apparent at camp that this was a very generous measurement. Against older competition, size was a bit of an issue, but it’s something he can overcome with work in the gym, but it doesn’t necessarily paint an easy path to the pros and limits his projection a little bit.
What’s going to separate Roy from some of the other notable recent undersized two-way defenders, is Roy’s excellent hockey I.Q. Despite playing difficult minutes in the offense-heavy QMJHL his very responsible game resulted in few turnovers as he provided smart passes out of the zone.
Said Roy, “I wanted to go first round; at the same time, it’s not the end of the world.”
Throw in an unrelenting positive demeanor and a slight chip on his shoulder and Roy could very easily become one of those early second-round defenders that teams wish they never passed on.
Roy met with the media after being selected by the Sharks, with some of his comments (partially in French) being included in this HF video.