Meier's Illness Opens the Door for Other Sharks Prospects

SAN JOSE -- Timo Meier is back at the Sharks' practice facility, but a lingering illness kept him off of the ice for the fifth straight day with no timetable to return.

What began as strep throat has apparently developed into something more significant, although coach Pete DeBoer said that it's still nothing the team is "really worried about."

"We'll just get the blood checked and go from there," said Meier, who planned on checking in with a team doctor later on Thursday.

"I'm definitely not feeling great. You want to get back on the ice, but there's just moments where you have to take a step back and take some time off to get back [to] 100 percent."

The illness has likely diminished Meier's chances to make the opening night roster, as he'll miss the Sharks' second preseason game on Friday and will probably not be in any condition to play on Sunday in Vancouver, either. It was thought before camp that the ninth overall pick from the 2015 draft was ready to seriously challenge for a spot on the Sharks, perhaps even as a replacement for Tomas Hertl on the top line if Hertl becomes third line center.

Now, though, it opens the door for other young players like Marcus Sorensen, Kevin Labanc, Barclay Goodrow and Nikolay Goldobin to get a longer look, and maybe even grab a spot themselves.

"It definitely opens up room, more guys are going to get an opportunity to play in exhibition games," DeBoer said. "You maybe had a guy penciled in for one game, but because you had Timo penciled in for two or three or four, now every game that he misses someone else gets that chance. I think that's just the way the hockey world works."

Meier said: "You're not skating out there so it's kind of hard to make a good impression with the coaches."

If Meier recovers quickly, it still permits him some time to make that impression with 13 days to go before the opener against Los Angeles. If it lingers, though, and he has to start with the Barracuda, so be it.

"Whether I play in the NHL, AHL, I'll want to go out there and get better every day and just show my best," Meier said.

"It's a little bit of a personality test too, how you can get back from stuff like little injuries [or] a little sickness. Once I get back, I'll focus back on my role."

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DeBoer gave the NHL group the day off on Thursday, while the younger group, with Barracuda coach Roy Sommer, practiced.

The Sharks' coach will keep an eye on the World Cup of Hockey game on Thursday, as Canada tries to wrap up the title. The Sharks have five players in the game between the Canadians and Team Europe, more than any other NHL club.

"I'm sure those guys are ready to get back," DeBoer sad. "They're been on the road now for almost a month, so I'm sure they want to put this to bed and get back here and see their families. The season is around the corner."

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