On Sunday night, the New Jersey Devils acquired star forward Timo Meier from the San Jose Sharks in a convoluted trade involving a mix of players, prospects, and draught selections moving both ways.
Meier will be a restricted free agent this offseason, with a qualifying offer of $10 million this summer. According to a source, the trade to New Jersey does not involve an extension because the Devils want to deploy Meier on a short-term basis before looking at a long-term agreement.
Together with Meier, the Devils gained left wing Timur Ibragimov, defenders Scott Harrington and Santeri Hatakka, goalkeeper Zachary Emond, and a fifth-round draught selection in 2024.
The Sharks obtained New Jersey’s conditional first-round pick in this year’s draught, defenders Shakir Mukhamadullin and Nikita Okhotiuk, forwards Andreas Johnsson and Fabian Zetterlund, and conditional second- and seventh-round picks in next year’s draught. As part of the agreement, San Jose will keep 50% of Meier’s existing pay.
Mukhamadullin was one of New Jersey’s three first-round choices in the 2020 draught, alongside Dawson Mercer, a Devils regular in the NHL, and Alexander Holtz, the team’s greatest scoring prospect.
Meier has 31 goals and 52 points while playing out the thread for a rebuilding team. Coach David Quinn kept him out of San Jose’s practise on Feb. 19 due to an upper body ailment, and he hasn’t played since.
The Devils, who have only reached the playoffs once since 2012 and have been rebuilding in recent years, are a year ahead of plan, according to general manager Tom Fitzgerald, who spoke to ESPN last month. The Devils were second in the Metropolitan Division on Sunday, behind the Carolina Hurricanes, with 83 points in 59 games.
According to insiders, the Carolina Hurricanes and the Vegas Golden Knights were the finalists in Meier’s negotiations. According to ESPN, those clubs were not granted permission to contact with Meier’s agent, Claude Lemieux, about a possible contract.
Adding a rental player goes against Fitzgerald’s usual strategy of constructing his teams throughout the summer, but with the possibility of accepting Meier’s qualifying offer, the Devils retain control of his situation until next season, and they may be able to get a long-term contract during that time.
Because of his age (26) and the aforementioned club control that San Jose might offer to prospective buyers, Meier was one of the biggest names available ahead of the March 3 trade deadline.
“At the All-Star break, everyone is talking to San Jose about Timo Meier,” one rival Eastern Conference front office official said. “Everyone is keeping an eye on it.”
The All-Star forward was selected ninth overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. He scored 20 goals five times and 30 goals three times in seven seasons with the Sharks.
Sharks general manager Mike Grier is definitely looking forward, but he has been adamant all season that a Meier trade might wait until the summer if the appropriate in-season package does not materialise.
Meier will rejoin two former colleagues on Team Switzerland for the 2022 World Championships in New Jersey: captain Nico Hischier and defender Jonas Siegenthaler.