Throughout June, theScore will be projecting contracts for the star-studded restricted free-agent class. In this edition, we project Timo Meier's new deal.
Timo Meier came into his own during the final year of the winger's entry-level contract. He nearly doubled his previous career high in points and ranked third on the Sharks with 30 goals while establishing himself as a top-six threat.
The 22-year-old was incredibly efficient during his production spike this season, too. Meier suited up for just under 17 minutes per contest, and he still finished the year 14th among all regularly deployed forwards with 1.21 goals per 60 at five-on-five, according to Natural Stat Trick.
Meier, the ninth overall pick in 2015, offers a blend of size, speed, and scoring touch. He asserted himself more during the 2019 playoffs, too, racking up 15 points in 20 games before the Sharks bowed out in the Western Conference Final.
The Sharks might own the NHL's longest to-do list this summer. General manager Doug Wilson has some crucial decisions to make, and he faces a bevy of contract situations that need to be resolved.
Aside from Meier, the Sharks' list of expiring deals includes captain Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Erik Karlsson, Joonas Donskoi, and Gustav Nyquist, all of whom are unrestricted free agents. Kevin Labanc, fresh off a career-high 56-point campaign, is an RFA as well.
It's hard to imagine veterans Pavelski and Thornton suiting up elsewhere, but even if they stay put, their combined cap hit will likely eat up a fair chunk of San Jose's projected $24.7 million available to spend.
Then there's Karlsson, who still put up 45 points in 53 games despite suffering through an injury-riddled debut season in the Bay Area. He has every right to demand a salary that places him among the highest-paid defensemen.
Bringing everybody back doesn't seem feasible, so Wilson needs to play this offseason carefully to ensure the Sharks' competitive window stays open as long as possible.
Here's a list of comparable contracts wingers have signed coming out of their ELCs in recent years:
|Player (Team)||P/GP*||AAV||CH%||Length||Year signed|
|Nikolaj Ehlers (WPG)||0.73||$6M||8.0%||7 years||2017|
|David Pastrnak (BOS)||0.93||$6.66M||8.89%||6 years||2017|
|Tomas Hertl (SJ)||0.58||$5.625M||7.08%||4 years||2018|
|Jake Guentzel (PIT)||0.92||$6M||7.55%||5 years||2018|
|William Nylander (TOR)||0.74||6.9M**||8.67%||6 years||2018|
CH% = Cap hit percentage, based on cap ceiling when the contract was signed
* - In contract year
** - Nylander's cap hit in 2018-19 was prorated to $10.2 million because of time missed in negotiations
Meier posted a 0.84 points-per-game average this season, putting him on track to land a similar deal to those above. However, with the salary cap set to reach $83 million next season, he could earn more than some of his peers.
The most interesting case on the list is Hertl, Meier's teammate who was given a four-year contract even when he was producing pedestrian numbers. In the first year of his new deal, though, Hertl exploded for 35 goals and 74 points, turning his cap hit into a bargain for now.
Meier isn't quite on the same level as Mitch Marner, Mikko Rantanen, or Patrik Laine when compared to other RFA wingers up for new deals in this summer's star-studded class. But he should still land a comfortable long-term contract.
Meier emerged as a strong scorer while carving out a nice role during his contract year, and he should be compensated accordingly. However, it's hard to imagine him breaking the bank on a huge deal with the Sharks facing cap constraints and several other contracts to negotiate.
The only Sharks forwards currently locked in for more than two seasons are Logan Couture, Evander Kane, and Hertl. From Wilson's perspective, it makes sense to add Meier to that list at a rate that matches up with market value, and one that won't handcuff the team down the road.
Verdict: six years, $37.8 million ($6.3M AAV)
Others in this series: