After having a breakout 2018-19 season, San Jose Sharks’ right wing Timo Meier was expected to at least continue this success in 2019-20 — but it didn’t happen. So, what went wrong?
After having a breakout 2018-19 season in which he scored 66 points (30 goals, 36 assists), Meier was expected to produce similar, if not better numbers this season.
All three stats (points, goals, and assists) from Meier’s 2018-19 season were career-bests. Additionally, his 66 points were fourth on the team, his 30 goals were third on the team, and his 36 assists were sixth on the team.
With Meier being a restricted free agent that offseason, the Sharks signed him to a four-year, $24 million deal with an average annual value of $6 million.
After signing a nice new deal, it was expected that Meier would replicate his production from last season. However, this was not the case. In 70 games this season, Meier scored 49 points (22 goals, 27 assists) — on pace for just 58 points.
Yes, his 49 points were the most on Sharks. Yes, his 22 goals were second on the team. Yes, his 27 assists were third on the team. But Meier was expected to score at least 65 points this season, so what went wrong?
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What went wrong
With Meier falling short of his expectations for the Sharks this season, I’ve come up with three explanations for why this happened.
1. Change of linemates
Meier had 841:37 of time on ice (TOI) with Couture last season, while this season that time dropped dramatically to just 293:10.
Instead, Meier was mostly on a line with center Joe Thornton this season — jumping up from 234:16 of TOI last season to 375:10 this season (the most Meier has with any forward).
I know that Thornton is still a very good playmaker and hockey player in general, but he just isn’t what he used to be and is not the offensive threat that Couture is at this point in his career.
To me, this is one clear reason why Meier regressed this season.
2. Instability of linemates
Although Meier played mainly with Thornton this season, he also played a good amount with several other centers and forwards. Meier had a TOI of over 300 with four different forwards this season (Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Kevin Labanc, and Barclay Goodrow).
Last season, Couture was the clear-cut guy for most TOI with Meier by over 400 minutes, compared to the other forwards. This shows that Meier mainly played on one line last season, compared to several this season.
By switching around Meier so much, it made it difficult for him to get into a groove and build chemistry with his linemates. This caused longer, and more frequent, scoreless streaks.
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3. The departure of Joe Pavelski
After Couture, center Joe Pavelski was second among forwards in TOI with Meier, at 408:37. So Meier was switching between playing with two 60+ point forwards instead of mainly playing with an aging, declining Thornton.
Playing with Pavelski last season, Meier had 19 points (five goals, 14 assists). His 19 points with Pavelski was third out of other Sharks’ forwards, his 14 assists were second, and his five goals were fifth.
So, it’s clear that Meier and Pavelski played well with each other when they got the chance. The departure of Pavelski hurt Meier’s ability to produce offensively because of the lack of talent now playing with him.
All in all, I don’t think Timo Meier’s regression in offensive production was because of a decline in Meier’s skill and ability.
But it was rather that of a decline in the San Jose Sharks’ overall offensive talent that hurt Meier’s offensive production.