How Timo Meier will help Sharks fill goal-scoring void this season

How Timo Meier will help Sharks fill goal-scoring void this season

Editor's note: The Sharks open training camp later this week, looking to replace nearly 60 regular-season goals from departed forwards Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist. Before camp officially begins, NBC Sports California is examining the players who will help San Jose fill that goal-scoring void. We start with Timo Meier. 

Only one NHL player scored more goals playing fewer minutes per game than Sharks winger Timo Meier last season. 

Meier averaged a career-high 16:58 per night in his third season in San Jose, but he still scored a career-high 30 goals. Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher, meanwhile, scored 33 while averaging just 16:24 per game in ice time. 

Although his emergence unsurprisingly coincided with a career-high shooting percentage (12 percent), Meier's scoring efficency bodes well for his chances of having another career year. A significant uptick in minutes, combined with continued development, means Meier is a strong candidate to help the Sharks make up for the offensive production they lost this offseason. 

Meier played just shy of 14 minutes per night in 5-on-5 situations, where he arguably was the Sharks' most impactful forward. He generated shot attempts, expected goals, scoring chances and high-danger chances at a higher rate than any other San Jose forward last season, according to Natural Stat Trick, and led them in goals (22), too. 

Where Meier did not play as much was on the power play. Seven Sharks forwards averaged more power-play ice time than the Swiss winger (1:48), but few were as active: Meier led Sharks forwards in shots per hour, expected goals per hour, scoring chances per hour and high-danger chances per hour. 

Meier still tied for fourth on the Sharks in power-play goals (six) last season, and he stands to benefit most from Joe Pavelski's departure. Pavelski's presence as a power-play fixture needs to be replaced, as the former San Jose captain led the team in power-play ice time last season. Meier not convert on over 15 percent of his power-play shots again, but he had enough looks at the net last season where additional ice time alone could be enough for him to exceed last year's goal-scoring totals. 

That's if you assume Meier continues to generate shots and chances at the same rate, rather than improving upon either. Meier won't turn 23 until October, so it's possible he has another level to reach next season. Still, Meier ranked no worse than fifth among forwards who played a minimum of 750 5-on-5 minutes last season in generating attempts, shots and chances. He already was among the NHL's best in those areas last season, so any improvement would likely be incremental. 

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But that and more ice time can be a potent combination, and there will be plenty of the latter to go around. Pavelski didn't play much more than Meier in 5-on-5 situations, but his 14:19 in full-strength ice time will be spread throughout the rest of the lineup. The 35-year-old played nearly three minutes per night on the power play, and Meier has as good a chance of anyone on the roster to fill Pavelski's vacated spot on the Sharks' top power-play unit. 

This year, Meier likely will get more chances to do the same things that drove his breakout season. That's a good formula for more goals, and continued development from Meier turns it into a great one. 

Sharks credit perfect penalty kill in sealing big win over Hurricanes

Sharks credit perfect penalty kill in sealing big win over Hurricanes

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks' 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night was no easy feat.

In fact, the team was fairly unhappy with how they played in the first period at SAP Center, despite heading into the first intermission with a 3-1 lead. 

But the Sharks were happy with was how their special teams propelled them to their third straight win. Although a potent power play helped get them on the board early, the penalty kill made the biggest difference.

"Our penalty kill, we've taken a lot of pride in it for a long time," coach Peter DeBoer said. "It's been good for a few years here."

The Sharks ended the night with the NHL's third-best penalty kill with a 91.7 percent success rate. San Jose has not allowed a power-play goal in each of its last three wins.

Evander Kane's first-period hat trick gave the Sharks a boost, but they spent too much time in their own zone at even strength Wednesday. The Hurricanes, who were playing the second night of a back-to-back, gave San Jose netminder Martin Jones plenty of work to do. Carolina dominated the shot clock and had the game's better chances.

But when things got extra interesting in the second period and the Sharks got into penalty trouble, their kill came to the rescue. Barclay Goodrow, a mainstay on San Jose's penalty kill, credited the Sharks' short-handed success to their pace.

"We're moving our feet, we're pressuring the opposition," he summarized. "We're forcing them to make plays a little quicker than they would like to. I think that, and we're blocking shots. And we're getting clears when we want to, so it's going well."

The Hurricanes had a golden opportunity to climb out of their two-goal hole late in the second period. Goodrow and Patrick Marleau simultaneously sat in the penalty box for hooking minors, giving Carolina 46 seconds on the 5-on-3. 

But with help from Jones, the Sharks penalty kill kept the 'Canes off the scoreboard.

"Your goalie's always your best penalty killer," DeBoer said. "He was really solid. I thought that first period [the score] could've been 3-3. He's given us two really good games in a row."

[RELATED: Watch Kane score Sharks' first-ever first-period hat trick]

While every game carries its own momentum, the Sharks undoubtedly would like for the success of their penalty kill to carry over into their next game.

The Sharks close out their three-game homestand Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres, who currently have the second-best power play in the league. As a result, San Jose knows its penalty kill will once again be a key point. 

"We're going to be playing a good Buffalo team," Sharks captain Logan Couture observed. "I think they lost tonight but they've been playing very, very well. Their power play is very hot. So it'll be a good test for us."

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 5-2 win over red-hot Hurricanes

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 5-2 win over red-hot Hurricanes

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks knew the Carolina Hurricanes would be a big test Wednesday night at SAP Center. If that test was being graded, you would be hard-pressed not to give them an A.

Fueled by Evander Kane's first-period hat trick and a potent power play, the Sharks played perhaps their best game to date and stymied the Hurricanes in a 5-2 win.

Here are three takeaways from San Jose's third straight win.

Evander Kane, obviously

When a player becomes the first in Sharks history to score a hat trick before the first period ended, not giving him his own takeaway would be a crime. 

Kane's first goal deserves some recognition because of how quickly he scooped up the loose puck at Tomas Hertl's feet to chip it past Hurricanes netminder James Reimer.

But his next two power-play goals were also impressive, and his third was downright Pavelskian.

The Sharks struggled to get traffic in front of the net during their winless start, but Kane and his teammates have been much better lately getting in the goalie's grill. On Wednesday night, that effort paid off. Big time.

Martin Jones keeps rolling

When Jones made a swift glove save on Teuvo Teravainen 1:07 into the game, you could tell he was about to have another strong outing.

The 'Canes spent most of the game in the Sharks' zone, and Carolina dominated the shot clock for the duration. But Jones was in the zone.

The Sharks won't be happy that Jones faced a lot of strong chances, even if San Jose collectively did a better job at minimizing the turnovers in this game. At least with both goaltenders playing well, the Sharks have a better chance of keeping those mistakes out of the back of their net.

[RELATED: Sharks' Labanc keeping focus on future after turnaround]

A special night for the power play and penalty kill

When the Sharks' special teams were in a rough state at the very start of the season, coach Peter DeBoer said he wasn't worried about it. He had a feeling it would figure itself out, and he was right.

In addition to Kane's two power-play goals, the Sharks penalty kill came up big in the second period when they killed off the Hurricanes' two-man advantage. Even though Carolina was visibly tired due to playing on the tail end of a back-to-back, the Eastern Conference leaders were still getting some good looks in front of Jones. The Sharks penalty kill, however, was on point. 

That bodes well for Saturday when the Sharks host the Buffalo Sabres, who currently have the NHL's second-best power play.