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2015 Draft Profiles: Timo Meier

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When you develop in the shadow of names like MacKinnon, Drouin, and Frk in Halifax, it takes a lot to be noticed. It takes even more to equal them. But Switzerland's Timo Meier might be one of the best to come off the recent production line in Nova Scotia

There is something special in the Atlantic wind.

Thundering in off thousands of miles of open ocean, the air in Halifax is cold, crisp and clean most of the time. It's a traditional arrival point from Europe to Canada...indeed, it's potentially the first land you hit since leaving Ireland, stuck out on the edge of Europe.

With the half-continent of Canada one side and Europe (via 5000 miles of watery waste) the other, Halifax has been the meeting point and destination for some of the best of both Canadian and European junior hockey the past few years.

Names like Martin Frk, Nikolaj Ehlers Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin (currently in the Stanley Cup Final with Tampa Bay) have all thrilled the Nova Scotian crowds, but as time is fleeting, they've moved on (with the exception of Ehlers, who will sooner rather than later) and left a gap for a new hero this season - one that's been filled by 6'1 and 209lbs of pure Swiss class in Timo Meier.

The 18-year-old from Herisau has risen from 16-year-old understudy to the stars to a star himself this season, and he's picked the best possible time to do so.

Meier, who can play both centre and right wing, played his junior hockey in the Swiss system, one of the rising systems in Europe, and was playing u20 hockey at 16 in Switzerland before making the jump across the Atlantic to the QMJHL. He's worked his way up from third/fourth line checking forward to top-line superstar/power forward over the past two years, combined with becoming the best player on his Swiss team at the World Juniors.

This year he's led his team in goals in Halifax with 46...unsurprising given that there are few better shots in the draft. Meier has a lethally quick, accurate wrister, a piledriver of a slapshot and has developed the ability to work himself free and find space to use both a lot more this season. His skating isn't the best in the draft by any means, but it's still at a high level and enables him to get to where he needs to go with speed and confidence.

The thing that could really see Meier blossom, though, is that he's effectively a combination of the best bits of two other highly-touted draft prospects into one body...he has the elite shot and eye for goal of someone like Yevgeny Svechnikov and the size and physical strength of a player like the (much higher-ranked for some reason) Lawson Crouse.

Meier is, to put it simply, a human tank that shoots like a sniper rifle. Whether it be bulling his way to the front of the net with his strength and superb balance or letting loose a one-timer in open space, the Swiss prospect is equally happy. He's also a hard worker who backchecks keenly and with enthusiasm.

So where are the bad points? Well, he's not as defensively sound yet as Crouse...his hands and confidence in the offensive game will occasionally see him make one move too many or try to make the big solo play at the wrong point, and his liking for the flashy will see the occasional blind pass or questionable play in his own zone. As you'd expect from someone averagely tall but carrying an impressive amount of muscle, his speed and acceleration is not that of the more fleet-footed players in the draft, although agility and acceleration can catch defenders flat-footed.

Balance, as you'd expect, is superb and he's strong in the corners, too...this is a player that can either score or check depending on what role you want him to be used...a true "one-size-fits-all" winger.

All of this makes it curious as to why he's not rated higher than the arguably inferior Lawson Crouse by scouts-Meier is expected to fall to a team in the teens, although it's possible he'll go higher. He's rated 12 by Central Scouting...which is either horrendously low, or indicative of the quality of this year's top ten.

If your team gets Meier-you should be very excited. He's the prototypical checking forward with a lethal scoring touch-a two-way board-banger who'll hit the net almost as often as he hits the opposition.

The Halifax record of developing elite forward prospects looks like it'll continue for a little while yet.