The Sharks Trade Timo Meier to the Devils

The Sharks Trade Timo Meier to the Devils

The New Jersey Devils acquire winger Timo Meier, defensemen Scott Harrington and Santeri Hatakka, forward Timur Ibragimov, goaltender Zachary Emond and a 2024 fifth-round pick that originally belonged to the Colorado Avalanche from the San Jose Sharks.

In return, the Sharks received forwards Fabian Zetterlund and Andreas Johnsson, defensemen Shakir Mukhamadullin and Nikita Okhotyuk, a conditional 2023 first-round pick, a conditional 2024 second-rounder and a 2024 seventh-round selection.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports there is no contract extension as part of this deal. Chris Johnston reports the Sharks are retaining 50 percent of Meier’s $6 million cap hit.

San Jose Sharks trade Timo Meier to the New Jersey Devils (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One of this season’s biggest trade candidates is now off the market, getting traded exactly where everyone assumed he’d end up.

Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald recently indicated his intent to acquire a top-six winger with a contract that could be controlled beyond this season. Meier was seen as the perfect candidate. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s also a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility, he gives the Devils the opportunity to retain his rights for at least one more season with the possibility of a contract extension down the road.

Currently sidelined day-to-day with a lower-body injury, the 26-year-old Meier has 31 goals and 52 points in 57 games. He had 35 goals and 76 points in 77 games last season. A skillful offensive winger, he should be a terrific fit alongside Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier on one of the Devils’ top-two lines, providing them with an additional boost of scoring punch.

Meier is in the final season of his contract. While his average annual value is $6 million, he’s earning $10 million in actual salary. That’s how much it would’ve cost the Sharks to qualify his rights and part of the reason they’ve traded him. It’ll also cost the Devils that much unless the two sides can agree to a contract extension worth less than $10 million annually.

Acquiring Meier could also be seen as an insurance move by Fitzgerald if contract extension talks stall with winger Jesper Bratt. Like Meier, the 24-year-old Bratt is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He’s on a one-year, $5.45 million contract but will seek a substantial raise on a long-term deal. Meier could potentially become a replacement for Bratt if Fitzgerald decides to part ways with the latter. 

Cap Friendly indicates the Devils have $36.6 million in projected cap space for 2023-24 with 10 regulars under contract. It’s believed Fitzgerald prefers to use Hughes’ $8 million AAV as a ceiling for his forwards. That might not be possible with Meier or Bratt.

Harrington, 29, is a defensive depth blueliner now in his ninth NHL season. He’s on a one-year contract worth $750K and become a UFA in July. Hatakka, 22, spent most of the past two seasons with the Sharks AHL affiliate. The 22-year-old Ibragimov is currently with the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder. Emond, also 22, split the past two seasons in the AHL and ECHL.

The Devils are parting with their 2023 first-round pick. If it becomes a top-two selection, they will instead part with their 2024 first-rounder. That’s unlikely to happen given the Devils’ lofty position in the Eastern Conference standings.

If the Devils reach the 2023 Eastern Conference Final and Meier plays 50 percent of their playoff games, or if they reach the 2024 Eastern Conference Final, that conditional second-rounder becomes their 2024 first-round pick. If it’s a top-10 selection, the Devils have the option of instead transferring their 2025 first-rounder to the Sharks. If they end up transferring their 2024 pick to San Jose as per the original conditions, they’ll have to part with their 2025 first-rounder.

It’s unsurprising the Devils could end up parting with two first-round picks. However, they can afford it given their status as a rising force in the Eastern Conference thanks in part to the rising young talent already on their roster and their deep prospect pool. They also didn’t have to sacrifice their most promising youngsters to make this deal.

The Sharks, meanwhile, get a package comprised largely of futures as they restock their prospect pipeline. They should have two first-round picks in this year’s draft and potentially another one in 2024.

Mukhamadullin, 21, is currently playing in the KHL. He was ranked fifth by The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler in his midseason assessment of the Devils’ top prospects. The 22-year-old Okhotyuk was ranked 13th by Wheeler. He’s spent parts of the past two seasons between the Devils and their AHL affiliate.

Zetterlund, 23, is in his first full NHL season with 20 points in 45 games and will likely fit right away into the Sharks lineup as a middle-six winger. Johnsson, 28, is a former 20-goal scorer now in his sixth NHL season but he’s spent most of it with the Devils’ farm team. He’s in the final season of a three-year contract with a $3.4 million cap hit and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.