Devils land star winger Meier from Sharks
The New Jersey Devils have won the Timo Meier sweepstakes.
New Jersey acquired the star winger from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for rookie winger Fabian Zetterlund, forward Andreas Johnsson, prospects Shakir Mukhamadullin and Nikita Okhotiuk, a conditional first-round pick in 2023 and 2024, and a 2024 seventh-round pick, the teams announced Sunday.
The Devils also received defensemen Scott Harrington and Santeri Hatakka, forward Timur Ibragimov, goalie prospect Zachary Emond, and a 2024 fifth-round pick.
If New Jersey's 2023 first-rounder is a top-two selection, San Jose will receive the team's 2024 first-round pick instead.
If the Devils make the Eastern Conference Final this season or next and Meier plays 50% of the games, the Sharks will get New Jersey's 2024 first-rounder (top-10 protected). If not, it'll be a second.
Widely considered the best player available on the trade market, Meier is a pending restricted free agent with a $6-million cap hit. However, the Sharks are retaining 50% of his salary.
The Devils don't have an extension in place for their newest acquisition, according to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, but general manager Tom Fitzgerald said that getting him signed is a priority.
"We will start at some point to ink his name to a long-term deal," he said shortly after the trade was announced, according to team beat reporter Amanda Stein. "I think New Jersey will sell itself."
Meier will be due a $10-million qualifying offer to retain his negotiation rights.
The 26-year-old has 31 goals and 52 points in 57 games this season. Meier is only five tallies away from breaking his previous career high of 35, which he set last campaign.
He hasn't played since Feb. 18 and is considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
The Switzerland native brings more star power into a squad that already features the likes of Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. The Devils are one of the league's top possession teams at five-on-five, ranking among the top three in virtually every key category, including shot attempts for percentage (53.8%), goals for percentage (58.4%), expected goals for percentage (55.3%), and scoring chances for percentage (55.2%), according to Natural Stat Trick.
Meier fits that profile perfectly. Despite the club's struggles, San Jose controlled over 50% of the shot attempts, scoring chances, and high-danger chances with him on the ice, as well as an impressive 57.8% of the expected goals.
He referred to himself as "your typical power forward" in his first presser as a Devil while emphasizing his excitement about joining the team.
"They're a super dynamic team, super fast, super skilled. They can be in it in many ways," Meier said.
Devils fans broke out into "We want Timo!" chants during games this season, and Fitzgerald said he heard them "loud and clear."
"I understood who they wanted. It's great when it aligns with what the organization wants," he said, per The Fourth Period's James Nichols. "But this is something (the fans) deserve. Not only the players but our fanbase deserves this excitement. ... It's only gonna get better.
"We're coming into a situation where we know our team believes we have a championship-caliber team."
As for the rest of the Devils' haul, Harrington heads to New Jersey with one goal and six assists in 28 games this season while averaging 15:18 per contest. Hatakka, meanwhile, saw his first nine games of NHL action last campaign and has two helpers under his belt.
Ibragimov and Emond have played in the ECHL this season, where the former has 32 points in 52 games, and the latter has posted a .936 save percentage in four appearances.
On the Sharks' end, Mukhamadullin was selected by the Devils with the No. 20 pick in 2020. The 21-year-old defenseman has 25 points in 67 KHL games this season and is a plus-16.
Okhotiuk put up one goal in 10 games with the Devils this season. The Devils picked him in the second round in 2019. The 22-year-old blue-liner also has six points in 20 AHL games this year.
Zetterlund chipped in with six goals and 14 helpers across 45 contests with the Devils in what's been his first full NHL campaign.
Johnsson has played just two Devils games this season and has spent the bulk of the campaign in the AHL. The 28-year-old has 113 points in 248 career NHL games split between New Jersey and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Devils officially opened their contention window this campaign and are primed to make the playoffs after a four-season drought. They sit second in the Metropolitan Division with a 39-15-5 record.
The rebuilding Sharks are trending in the opposite direction, toiling in seventh place in the Pacific Division with a record of 18-30-12.
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