Connect with us

San Jose Sharks

Ex-NHL Head Coach Still Sees Zetterlund’s Upside



Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Fabian Zetterlund is no Timo Meier, and that’s okay.

The San Jose Sharks acquired Zetterlund in February, part of a 13-piece trade that sent 40-goal scorer Meier to the New Jersey Devils.

While Zetterlund wasn’t necessarily the centerpiece of the package that went to San Jose – top prospect Shakir Mukhamadullin and a 2023 first-round pick were – the 23-year-old winger was enjoying a solid rookie campaign with the Devils at the time of the trade, with six goals and 14 assists in 45 games.

“He’s shown that he can be a good NHL player. Is it just a good third-liner, who can play up?” an NHL scout from outside the Sharks organization told San Jose Hockey Now about Zetterlund then.

Scouts on What Sharks Are Getting in Mukhamadullin, Zetterlund, Okhotiuk (+)

While a reliable third-liner is a far cry from a first-liner like Meier, that’s still a plenty valuable forward.

“He still has some upside and he’s just finding his game,” the scout added. “The opportunity will be good for him.”

Except it wasn’t good: Zetterlund had zero goals and three assists in 22 games for the San Jose Sharks. That’s well short of his 82-game pace with New Jersey, 11 goals and 26 assists, about right for a third-liner.

“He’s still finding his way,” Sharks head coach David Quinn acknowledged three weeks before the end of the regular season. “Timo texted me yesterday, we were going back and forth. He was talking about how difficult the transition was to get traded. So it happens to everyone.”

The San Jose Sharks can only hope the transition is complete for Zetterlund next season. He’s still young, and the quality of his play on the Devils was a real thing.

I looked back at the pending RFA’s New Jersey tape to get a sense of why San Jose dealt for him. There are two consistent and critical positives that I saw.

An ex-NHL head coach also added his thoughts.

Read the Full Story at NBC Sports Bay Area

Welcome to your new home for San Jose Sharks breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to SJHN+ for all of our members-only content from Sheng Peng and the National Hockey Now network plus an ad-free browsing experience.
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Having a hard time seeing the optimism. Devils fans seemed to think highly of him and I thought he might be a useful forward on a team lacking them. But it hasn’t worked out yet. He’s also not that young, it needs to come together for him soon.


Yes thank you. Was trying to grapple this myself. Honestly in the gifs he looks like a penalty machine to me, doesn’t have the physical tools really and kinda has to do some wild movements to win battles. I know he doesn’t have a lot of penalties, but yeah I honestly don’t know how we could do anything but qualify the guy and let him go the next offseason when he wants 2-3 mil a year. Everytime I try to get a decent looking lineup together, I only pick one of zetterlund, Lorentz, Lindblom, lebanc, Gregor and the rest don’t… Read more »


I’m not sure Zetterlund had a bad season with the Sharks, he’s a defensive forward, not a goal scorer. He does have a hard slap shot.

He’s a Grier type forward. Grier mainly played as a checking forward in the NHL, he may think defensive, checking forwards play a more vital role on a successful team than goal scorers.

When asked during the season about Meier, a goal scorer, staying with the Sharks, Grier mentioned he wants to see if he fits in. Sigh.

Kaspar Vivaldi

Look at Florida, they’re a high volume checking team with a couple star players, one of whom is also a checking machine. Griers archetype works. But it isn’t the case that he’s ONLY wanting checking players, that would be ridiculous and some fans took that too literally. Bystedt, Lund and Havelid were Mike picks that are not heavy checking players. Mukhamadullin is not a big checker.

Grier is referring to the identity of the team, not that each player needs to be a third line grinder lol.

Last edited 9 days ago by Kaspar Vivaldi

Panthers guys have a lot more size it feels like, they look big and fast and can skate and are coached well. That’s not the identity of the sharks right now, so I don’t understand why we don’t play to the strengths of the roster. Like with boughner half the time I was like, why are we playing like this? This game does not suit us at all. Imo if Dan Quinn can tweak his system to add more possession aspects into it, I think it might actually work. But why are we going to overhaul the roster for a… Read more »

Kaspar Vivaldi

Sharks are well coached if you look at the fancy team stats. Hes done a very good job with a limited toolset. Quinn has this team in the right direction but this is a process. All of your comments are hyper conjecture laden extremely biased opinion of someone who misses the Wilson era for all the wrong reasons. Embrace change or refuse to evolve.

timorous me

I mean, the biggest issue is that the Sharks just aren’t good right now. Their roster isn’t close to Florida’s. There’s only so much you can do with it–they underperformed expected wins this year, but even if they’d overperformed, I mean, you’re still looking at like an 80 point season. To your point above about Timo and this idea that Grier wasn’t sure if he fit in, I don’t really know what quote you’re referring to, but I don’t think it was for a second that Grier didn’t really like Timo as a player; it’s simply that, without saying so,… Read more »


“We didn’t put any parameters on [negotiating in-season]. It’s for me to get to know Timo personally, as a person, and to see how he fits in, and for Quinny to get to know him as a player,” Sharks general manager Mike Grier shared. Source, article title: Agent: Timo doesn’t expect contract offer until after season He probably doesn’t think Meier, with the playing style he showed with the Sharks, fits in with his idea of an in-your-face hockey team. Rumor has it, Grier has several aggressive college football linebackers and strong safeties on his list of prospects for… Read more »

timorous me

Feel free to read that how you wish, but I guess I’m just of the mind that Grier isn’t a fool and this is basically all doublespeak to deflect from talk that the Sharks were going to trade Meier all along and were basically tanking and won’t be competing for a few years.

KAT aka KE the original

Timo isn’t going to be the goal scorer he was on the West Coast as the East Coast goalies are better in the net. This is not to say he isn’t going to score but it won’t be 30+ in my opinion. He didn’t do well in the playoffs. He was even playing 3rd line. But he hadn’t been with the team all year. I believe Zertterland will do well next season. He knows what Quinn wants and will work on it during the summer. Quinn is doing a great job with the USA team. Those boys have been fun… Read more »


I watched the last NHL draft on television, it seems Grier, with his comments, made it clear DW Junior served as the leader of the draft.

I didn’t say he only wants checking forwards.

If Grier got the first pick in the draft, I wouldn’t be surprised if he traded the pick. The 5′ 9” and a smidge more, Connor Bedard, is not an in-your-face, checking forward.


Just to add a bit. The NHL is a forechecking league. This is where the turnovers get created which results in quick strike offensive chances — which are often converted into goals. From what the Devils fans wrote about Zetterlund, thought he might be the sort who can get this done. Physical play to create the turnovers which turn into high grade scoring chances. Just didn’t see that. Even though the article had some positive comments about hs shot, that just isn’t enough. He sorta reminded me of Gus Nyquist in his time here. Acquired at the trade deadline, never… Read more »

timorous me

Really good article, Sheng. I’m certainly holding out hope for more from Zetterlund, but the fact is, even if that never comes, it’s not some catastrophe, as it’s not like he was the centerpiece (or even secondary piece) of the Timo trade.

Also, I can’t be the only one trying to figure out the identity of this head coach, can I? 🤔

David Gotlieb

I have a theory, maybe next time I see Sheng at a cuda game I’ll ask… But even if I’m right he probably won’t confirm it. And if he did I wouldn’t say it.

timorous me

The fun thing about speculating without ever being told if you’re right is that you’re also guaranteed to never be wrong!

Brendan Thompson

The only thing I want to know about Fabian Zetterland is why his lower back pad is always sticking out over his jersey.

KAT aka KE the original

I wondered the same and then thought it must be a superstition- recently a player interview with NHL network stated the reason for tucking his jersey is that when he was young he always played with the older guys and the jersey was too long so he tucked it in and has done so ever since. I wish I could remember the player.

Sheng’s Travel Fund

Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.

Click here to contribute to Sheng's travel pool!

Get SJHN in your inbox!

Enter your email address to get all of our articles delivered directly to your inbox.

Hockey Shots

Extra Hour Hockey Training

Cathy’s Power Skating

Sharks Team & Cap Info

SJHN on Facebook

All the San Jose Sharks news that's fit to print

Enter your email to get the best Sharks coverage delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.