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Meier Becomes Public Enemy No. 1 in Devils-Rangers Series



Credit: New Jersey Devils

Timo Meier has become Public Enemy No. 1 for New York Rangers fans.

The new New Jersey Devils winger, acquired from the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 26, hasn’t scored yet in the Devils-Rangers’ first-round series, but he’s getting on the nerves of the Blueshirts in other ways.

Some Rangers fans believe that Meier landed on goalie Igor Shesterkin’s knee on purpose, in a bid to injury him.

Whatever you believe, there’s no doubt that Meier helped the Devils take Game Three 2-1 in OT, which also netted New Jersey their first win in this series. Meier was tied for team-lead in shots (5) and shot attempts (10), drew two penalties, blocked a K’Andre Miller shot, and was physical all over the ice.

Meier looks like he’s back to being the pest that I remembered when I first noticed him with the San Jose Sharks in 2017-18.

Ranger Barclay Goodrow, of course, knows that Meier very well. They played together with the San Jose Sharks and Barracuda from 2016 to 2020.

The Sharks haven’t seen as much of that annoying Meier in recent years, as the 26-year-old winger developed into their top scoring forward, but the playoffs tend to bring out the best – or, if you’re a Rangers fan, the worst – from players.

This reminds me of a conversation that I had with a scout from outside the San Jose Sharks organization as trade rumors swirled around Meier before the Trade Deadline.

He told me that he was looking forward to seeing Meier in the playoffs again. Despite a solid-but-unspectacular five goals and 10 assists in 20 playoff games in San Jose’s 2019 Western Conference Finals run, this scout remembered Meier as among the Sharks’ true standouts throughout that post-season with his consistent combination of speed, power, and tenacity.

That’s the type of game that thrives in the playoffs, and if Meier is doing everything else, the goals should be on the way.

San Jose Sharks fans should hope so: If the New Jersey Devils make the Eastern Conference Finals and Meier plays in half of the playoff games, the Devils’ 2024 second-round pick, sent to the Sharks in the Meier trade, becomes a 2024 first-rounder.

It’s the same stipulation next season too, except it’s not contingent on Meier playing half of the post-season schedule next year, just on New Jersey advancing to the conference finals.

It’s also worth noting, the way that the Draft is ordered, a first-round Devils loss now wouldn’t really change where New Jersey’s 2023 first-round pick is slotted. The Sharks also received that pick in the Meier deal.

According to Tankathon, after the top-16 lottery picks, “playoff teams that did not win their divisions and did not make the conference finals, sorted by points, are assigned the next picks.” The Devils, with 112 points, were the best regular season non-division winner, meaning no matter what, they’re going to be at the very back of the next tier of first-round selections.

In essence, the Sharks aren’t getting anything better than the No. 24 pick from the Devils this year, and that’s only if none of the division winners make the conference finals.

So perhaps Meier can repeat his regular season pattern? After the trade, Meier scored just one goal in his first six Devils appearances, before exploding for eight goals in the last 15 games of the season.

San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn actually had some insight on that, sharing on Mar. 24: “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.”

Meier himself noted before Game Three: “You prepare all year to get here. Now it’s time to bring it.”

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