Timo Meier trade: Why Sharks dealt their leading goal-scorer to Devils ahead of deadline

Timo Meier trade: Why Sharks dealt their leading goal-scorer to Devils ahead of deadline

Updated: 21 days, 15 hours, 49 minutes, 50 seconds ago

© Provided by Sporting News

It was no secret that the Sharks were dangling Timo Meier ahead of the March 3 NHL trade deadline and the sweepstakes wouldn't come down to the wire. 

The Devils swooped in and completed a deal for Meier on Sunday, adding a premier goal scorer to their offense ahead of what they hope will be a deep playoff run in the spring.

New Jersey seems to be striking at the right time. The Devils have a strong grip on a playoff spot at 39-15-5 (83 points) and are three points out of the Metropolitan Division lead.

MORE: NHL future considerations, explained: Defining hockey’s most interesting trade chip

With just one playoff appearance in the previous 10 seasons, the Devils are going all-in this season. They instantly upgraded their offense with the addition of Meier. The Sharks, on the other hand, will play out the rest of the season without their leading goal-scorer.

It's easy to see why the Devils would make the trade, but it couldn't have been easy for San Jose to part with a core player. Here's why the Sharks traded Meier ahead of the deadline.

Why the Sharks traded Timo Meier

Meier and Tomas Hertl helped take the torch from Sharks legends Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, but San Jose was a frequent playoff team during the Marleau and Thornton era. The results simply haven't been there for the franchise lately.

The Sharks (18-30-12, 48 points) are on track to miss the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season and have their worst point percentage since 1996-97. 

First-year general manager Mike Grier was facing a tough decision on Meier, who is set to be a restricted free agent in the summer.

MORE: Four potential destinations for Jakob Chychrun at the 2023 trade deadline

San Jose likely wouldn't have lost Meier for no compensation in the offseason, but his trade value was at its highest now. Meier has 31 goals through 57 games after posting a career-best 76 points last season.

Additionally, the prospect of a long-term extension didn't seem promising. Reports last summer indicated that the organization hadn't made any progress on a new deal, and Meier's agent, Claude Lemieux, said in January that the two sides hadn't discussed an extension during the season.

MORE: Five potential destinations for Patrick Kane at the 2023 deadline

TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported in January that Meier's next contract is expected to be worth at least $9 million annually. Ultimately, Grier chose to recoup value for the 26-year-old rather than commit to a massive deal. 

The deal will allow Grier to partially reset a franchise that needs change. He gains financial flexibility, and the trade return is expected to give him assets that will help accelerate that change.

Sunday's trade was undoubtedly a tough one for Grier to make, but it is the latest sign that times are changing for the franchise under Grier and new coach David Quinn.

Timo Meier trade details

Below are the full details of the Devils' trade for Meier. 

Devils receive

Timo Meier Scott Harrington Santeri Hatakka Zach Emond 2024 fifth-round pick

Sharks receive

Fabian Zetterlund Andreas Johnsson Nikita Okhotyuk Shakir Mukhamadullin 2023 first-round pick Conditional 2024 second-round pick 2024 seventh-round pick

New Jersey was able to get away without giving up either Dawson Mercer or Simon Nemec, though the Devils did part with one young NHL contributor in winger Fabian Zetterlund plus as many as two first-round picks. 

The 2024 second-round pick can become a first-rounder if the Devils reach the Eastern Conference Final in 2023 or 2024. 

Johnsson posted 35 points for the Devils last season but has spent most of this season in the AHL.

Timo Meier contract details

According to LeBrun, the trade does not include a contract extension for Meier. LeBrun reports the Devils are "comfortable" making the deal without having an extension in place.

Meier is in the final year of a four-year, $24 million contract ($6 million cap hit). The Sharks reportedly are retaining 50 percent of Meier's remaining salary.

Meier is set to become a restricted free agent in the summer. The Devils are in a strong position to retain him as it can match offer sheets from other clubs.