While on TSN “Insider Trading” last week (Oct. 27), Pierre LeBrun dropped some pretty notable news regarding the San Jose Sharks. The popular insider reported that the Sharks are willing to hear offers for just about every player on their roster besides Tomas Hertl. Therefore, it seems that players like Erik Karlsson, Logan Couture, Mario Ferraro, and James Reimer can be had for the right price. However, I’d argue that their most valuable trading piece is Timo Meier, and they would be wise to see what they could get for him.
Meier is coming off of a career season that saw him score 35 goals and record 76 points in 77 games. Although he is having a somewhat slow start to the 2022-23 campaign (seven points in 12 games), his trade value remains at its highest because of how wonderfully he performed last season. Furthermore, given his pending restricted free agent (RFA) status, we could see the Sharks shop him if he’s unwilling to sign long-term. Keep in mind, he’s inching closer to being eligible to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA). Nevertheless, let’s take a look at three potential landing spots for him if the Sharks opt to move him.
The Buffalo Sabres may be the most entertaining team in hockey right now. They are off to an outstanding start in 2022-23, as they sport a 6-3-0 record due to the marvelous play of Rasmus Dahlin, Tage Thompson, and Alex Tuch. This seems like the season that they could finally break their 11-year playoff drought, but that is not a guarantee. The Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference in general are immensely deep, so that could force Sabres general manager (GM) Kevyn Adams to make a big move. In my opinion, Meier would be the perfect player for Buffalo to target.
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The Sabres have a boatload of cap space at their disposal, so they could afford Meier with ease. Furthermore, this would help them in being able to offer the 26-year-old a big long-term extension, as many of their top players are already locked up for multiple seasons. Given his skill level, he could become a major part of their top six for several years to come, whether he’s playing on their first or second line. In the short term, however, he could be the boost that helps them maintain this marvelous stretch of play and compete with rivals like the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Florida Panthers.
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With the Sharks leaning toward a potential rebuild, I’d predict that they would expect a first-round pick, top prospect, and NHL-caliber player in exchange for Meier. One player who would be on San Jose’s radar is 2021 first-round pick Isak Rosen as he would have the potential to become the eventual replacement for Meier in the Sharks’ top six. As for an NHL player, Rasmus Asplund could make sense to add to this deal.
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are off to a 6-4-0 start, and that is very encouraging to see from them given their disastrous 2021-22 season. However, there are still some concerns regarding their roster, as general manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello failed to address their scoring woes during the offseason. Their forward depth has even worsened since then, as they lost Kieffer Bellows through waivers to the Philadelphia Flyers. As a result of all of this, I believe he cannot stay complacent and needs to make a big move. Meier would be the perfect player to add to the team’s top six.
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Mathew Barzal desperately needs a scoring winger on his line. This has been a common talking point regarding the Islanders for quite some time, but it’s an issue that Lamoriello seems to refuse to fix. Meier would be a significant upgrade over veteran Josh Bailey on the line and would simply make their attack far more intimidating. With that, Meier would be a lock to play both power play and penalty kill time, so overall, there seems like there could be a spectacular match here. There may not be a better winger potentially available this season, so he needs to be the Islanders’ primary trade target.
When it comes to a prospect heading the other way, it’s extremely unlikely that the Islanders would be okay with trading Aatu Raty. However, 2019 first-round pick Simon Holmstrom could be a prospect that the Sharks would want, as, like Meier, he is a big (6-foot-2) winger who has the potential to become a top-six forward. Furthermore, for cap reasons, I wonder if the Sharks GM Mike Grier would be willing to take on Bailey’s $5 million cap hit until 2024 if a sweetener was added to the deal. Rebuilding teams have become famous for doing this, so maybe an added second-round pick could get it done.
Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings are another team on the rise due to their mix of quality veteran players and impressive prospect pool. At this point of the season, they are certainly among the potential playoff teams, as they sport a 4-3-2 record. Therefore, I wonder if GM Steve Yzerman could consider making a move for Meier, especially if it comes with an extension finalized. Although the Red Wings have plenty of forwards, not too many of their wingers are legitimate top-six players. Therefore, bringing in Meier could be a nice way to help remedy this issue.
When observing the Red Wings’ lineup, it’s clear that Meier would fit beautifully on either Dylan Larkin or Andrew Copp’s left wing. No matter which line he’s utilized on, the Swiss winger would provide Detroit with a major boost that could help them take that next step and compete for a playoff spot this spring. With that, he has the potential to improve their power play significantly, and that’s something Detroit could use right now. At the time of this writing, they are ranked 23rd in the league with a power-play percentage of 18.75 percent.
Given the Red Wings’ forward depth, they would need to move on from two NHL players in a move for Meier. Filip Zadina is a player who stands out, as the 2018 first-round pick has yet to blossom into his full potential, but he is also still young enough to change things on that front. With that, perhaps Adam Erne could be a decent addition to the Shark’s bottom six because of his solid work ethic and tenacious style of play. Furthermore, the Sharks have solid prospects from Detroit to consider pursuing like Jonatan Berggren, William Wallinder, and Pontus Andreasson.
Alas, we will need to see what happens with Meier from here. With the Sharks being open for business, there’s no question that he is a candidate to be moved if he does not show interest in inking a long-term extension. If he is officially shopped, expect these three Eastern Conference teams to make a big push for him.