Timo Meier is surely at the top of many a Trade Deadline wishlist.
The 26-year-old winger has had that kind of season, following an All-Star campaign last year with a San Jose Sharks-leading 28 goals in just 49 games so far this season.
The pending RFA has been linked by insiders to three teams in particular, including the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils.
What kind of offers could the San Jose Sharks be looking at from those teams?
A couple comparable trades stand out.
Alex DeBrincat, like Timo Meier, was a pending RFA after 2022-23 when the Chicago Blackhawks sent him to the Ottawa Senators on Draft Day for the No. 7 and 39 picks in the 2022 Draft and a 2024 third-round pick. DeBrincat was younger (24) at the time of trade than Meier (26) and the Senators got one of DeBrincat’s relatively expensive bridge deal seasons ($6.4 million dollars AAV).
Roughly, DeBrincat is considered a better finisher than Meier, but Meier, because of his size and physicality, is thought to be the more complete player. Also, Ottawa traded for DeBrincat with no guarantee that he’d re-sign there.
Matthew Tkachuk, not quite like DeBrincat and Meier, was an RFA after the 2021-22 season. But in part because the Calgary Flames were willing to sign Tkachuk to the maximum eight-year contract first then part with him, essentially a sign-and-trade deal, they were able to extract star winger Jonathan Huberdeau and top defenseman MacKenzie Weegar and a lottery-protected 2025 first-round pick from the Florida Panthers.
Tkachuk, however, is considered a better all-around forward than both Meier and DeBrincat. And of course, his willingness to ink an extension with a team that he had never played for raised his value.
So when we compare Meier to DeBrincat and Tkachuk, it might make sense to expect a DeBrincat-like return for Meier, also keeping in mind that the Swiss winger’s potential willingness to commit quickly to his new team — a la Tkachuk — could also provide a boost to his value.
Elliotte Friedman has reported that there’s a willingness from the San Jose Sharks to allow teams interested in trading for Meier to talk to the star winger’s representation about an extension.
We don’t know if Meier will sign an extension with the team that he’s traded to, so let’s assume a trade is made without an extension. But let’s also assume that the organization acquiring Meier will feel optimistic about his wanting to commit long-term to them.
Following the DeBrincat comp, we’re projecting a current value lottery-caliber prospect (i.e. Alexander Holtz might have been a 2020 lottery pick, but is he still considered a top-10 pick in a 2020 re-draft?) and second and third-round picks in exchange for Meier.
Let’s talk about what the Rangers, Sabres, and Devils could offer the Sharks.
NEW YORK RANGERS
On Jan. 17, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reported that Meier has moved to the top of the Rangers trade list.
“He’s someone that would add a little bit of heft, I think to their top-six,” Seravalli said on the Daily Faceoff Live show. “And if you can plug him in, whether it’s on the line with Artemi Panarin, whether it’s in another spot with Mika Zibanejad, there’s certainly a place and a spot for Timo Meier.”
Could New York send Brennan Othmann, a 2024 first-round pick (top-10 protected), and Sammy Blais to the Sharks?
First off, my guess is that the Rangers resist moving 2019 second-overall pick Kaapo Kakko or 2020 first-overall Alexis Lafreniere in the middle of the season. They’ve had disappointing starts to their careers, but
Othmann was the Rangers’ first-round pick in 2021 and has a similar power-scoring style to Meier. Othmann scored 50 goals in 66 games in 2021-22 in the OHL and has won back-to-back World Junior Championships gold medals with Canada.
Although Othmann’s prospect profile may not be as high as it once was, he’s still a highly-regarded youngster, who probably still goes in the first round in a 2021 re-draft. The Rangers are effectively giving up the value of two mid-to-late first-round picks to San Jose.
Pending UFA Sammy Blais is in this trade because without the Sharks retaining any of Meier’s salary, the Rangers would not be cap compliant without including him.
TSN Insider Pierre LeBrun reported on Tuesday that the Sabres are interested in Meier.
“Timo Meier is not you’re prototypical rental player because he’s not an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, he’s technically a restricted free agent, but also has a $10 million qualifying offer, and that has some teams that really like him concerned about how they can navigate that,” LeBrun said on TSN’s Insider Trading.
The Sabres are not the typical Trade Deadline buyer either, as they currently sit three points behind the Washington Capitals for the second wild-card spot. But because Meier is an RFA, and the Sabres roster is younger, they could be looking to build around the 6-foot-1 winger for a long time.
Would an offer of Jiri Kulich and the Philadelphia Flyers’ 2023 second-round pick (acquired by Buffalo in the Rasmus Ristolainen trade) and a 2024 third-round pick move the needle for the San Jose Sharks?
That sounds like a low return for Meier at first, but consider that Kulich, the 28th-overall pick of the 2022 Draft, has seen his stock rise exponentially this season. The skilled forward scored seven goals in seven games for Czechia in the WJC while earning a silver medal, and it’s conceivable in a 2022 re-draft, he’d go in the top-10.
Kulich is ranked 47th in The Athletic’s recent ranking of the best players and prospects, 23 and younger.
The Sabres own three second-round picks in this upcoming draft, so I went with what I expect to be the highest pick in that round.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Elliotte Friedman on 32 Thoughts reported that the Devils could be interested in acquiring Meier.
New Jersey currently sits second in the Metropolitan division and looks poised for a playoff run. Meier and Nico Hischier have played together on the same line for Team Switzerland, which could be a reason for Meier wanting to sign an extension there.
Could the Devils offer Shakir Mukhamadullin, a 2024 first-round pick (top-15 protected), and Andreas Johnsson for Meier?
Thought to be a reach when New Jersey picked him 20th overall in 2020, Mukhamadullin has more than held his own playing against men in the KHL. In a 2020 re-draft, he probably goes now in the first round without too much question.
Much like the Rangers’ proposal, a de facto second first-round pick would be included in this deal as Mukhamadullin probably isn’t a lottery-caliber prospect though.
Johnsson is included in the deal for the Devils to be cap compliant. They would need the Sharks to retain 50% of Meier’s remaining salary this season and move the $2.275 million effective cap hit of the currently Binghamton Devils-buried Johnsson.
Johnsson is a UFA at season’s end and could potentially resurrect his career with the Sharks or help the Barracuda in their playoff push.
So would any of these offers be enough for GM Mike Grier to trade his sole game-changing forward?
Or do the San Jose Sharks and Meier strike their own deal to keep the star winger in teal?
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