Timo Meier sits 12th on Bob McKenzie's list after an excellent season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. Meier showed tremendous improvement year over year, boosting his goals per game by 212% and his points per game by 148% compared to his rookie season. That kind of improvement is amazing, but it also suggests a higher degree of variance with regard to how much of that offense he'll bring to the pro game.
With such a large jump in goalscoring, the possibility that Meier got particularly lucky has to be a concern. Fortunately, the QMJHL tracks shot totals, so we can see that the majority of Meier's improvement came by way of improving his shot totals (from 2.8 to 5.5 per game). His shooting percentage also increased (from 8.1% to 13.1%), but some of that is likely because of increased power play time, and the final number certainly isn't ridiculous.
With that concern mostly put to bed, the next biggest concern is probably Meier's age. With an early October birthday, Meier is one of the oldest players in this draft. As we look at Meier's comparables, that'll be something to keep in mind. In this case, a comparable player was someone who played his draft year in the CHL, had an adjusted goals per game rate between 0.63 and 0.78 and adjusted points per game rate between 1.31 and 1.60 (90% to 110% of Meier's production), and was selected somewhere between 7th and 17th overall. Here are the results:
A couple of the players on that list were about the same age as Meier when they were drafted, but only of those two became an effective NHL player. Of the younger set, we're looking at players who were effective in a middle six or fourth line role. To get a bit more exactness on that score I've listed each player's number of regular season games, his time on ice per game (if the NHL was recording TOI for more than half of the games he played), his points per game, and the first season he played in at least forty games in the chart below:
Two guys over half a point per game, but we're probably not looking at an impact offensive player here. Now, Meier is the first guy whose range overlaps with the Oilers' 16th overall pick, but if he actually lasts that long, his comparables will shift some too (at that point, we can replace McKenzie's list with the actual draft order). So who would his comparables be if the Oilers take Meier 16th? It's a little bit less flattering:
The three best players fall off the list and a couple of unknowns are added. Anthony Mantha had a lot of the same concerns as Meier in his draft year and though he was a guy that I really liked, he hasn't performed to expectations thus far as a pro (though Jim Devellano calling his year "very, very, very disappointing" is probably going overboard). Robby Fabbri, meanwhile, is still playing in the OHL, which makes it hard to know how much he's progressing. That said, Fabbri dealt with a significant knee injury this season and had his points per game rate take a step back. That's not devastating for Meier's projection, but neither of the new comparables seems on the cusp of NHL stardom.
I think what we've got with Meier is a player likely to make the NHL in some capacity, but not likely to be offensive juggernaut. Can he be effective in the middle six? The scouting reports suggest that he can. Meier's got excellent size at the junior level (6'1'' and 209 lbs. at the combine), and though it may take some time for his power game to translate, most scouts seem to like his physical play, puck retrieval capacity, and work ethic. If he's still around when the Oilers pick, he's certainly worth considering, but the team will definitely need to manage expectations.
Next up tomorrow morning: Noah Hanifin