Newark, NJ – The stars perfectly aliged for Timo Meier and the New Jersey Devils. There are many factors that favored general manager Tom Fitzgerald when he acquired Meier and even more that helped him retain the star power forward at a reasonable price. With a qualifying offer of $10 million, Meier could have played the waiting game. He could have walked himself into free agency after a full season of exposure to Jack Hughes and the Devils to cash in next summer. However, the want to win, the need for it, made Meier shave a couple of dollars off the top.
According to a report by ESPNs Kevin Weekes, the San Jose Sharks were willing to go above $9.25 million per year in order to keep the Swiss forward. However, Meier knew what was in store for San Jose and their future. They sold Brent Burns last summer, Erik Karlsson is on his way out, and although they won’t call it a rebuild, that’s what they’re doing.
The Devils, however, are in the exact opposite position. The 2022-23 season was just the start to the incredible upward trajectory New Jersey is on. With that in mind, Meier made the decision that it was best for him and the Devils to agree on a number everyone was comfortable with.
“I mean, you always want more right?” Meier explained. “For me, it’s about I want to win. That’s how I am as a person. You take less for that because that’s what’s gonna make me happy. It’s not the money. It’s the success you want to have with the team, the organization, the fans and all that. So that made the decision easy for me. I know I’m in a good place in Jersey where I feel really comfortable, where I feel confident about the future and that’s a big part of it.”
$8.8 million per year sounds like a lot of money. Meier’s best season came in 2021-22 when he scored 35 goals and 76 points. However, this season, Meier scored 40 goals and 66 points. It’s no secret that GMs in the NHL pay more for goal scorers and that’s exactly what Meier is.
The thing is, if you take a look at the Sharks and the last two seasons, they’ve played some poor hockey. They finished 22nd in the NHL in 2021-22 and 29th in 2022-23. In that span, their 2.57 goals per game ranked 30th in 2021-22 and in 2022-23, 25th scoring 2.84 G/GP. Despite the low team goal totals, Meier still produced.
Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl are excellent players. It’s no slight to them, but neither of those players are Jack Hughes. Meier’s fellow countryman, Nico Hischier, has also established himself as an elite NHLer. The fact of the matter is that the Devils bought Meier’s potential as well. He ended last season with 40 goals between San Jose and New Jersey. Now that he’ll be in one place, there’s plenty of reason to believe Meier could shatter his career high in goals and points.
“We have a great group of guys that are tight and work as a team,” Meier said. “Those are those are big things. Then obviously you add the talent and all the players we have, it’s a special thing that’s going on. That’s why I’m saying I can’t wait to get the upcoming season started. It can’t be soon enough. I’m just ready to go to work with these guys. Like I mentioned before, I can’t wait to really get to know them better, even though I had last season. Now having the chance to go through a full preseason and start the season knowing exactly how everything works and being familiar with the guys already, it’s gonna be great.”
According to CapFriendly, Meier’s contract is most comparable to some pretty elite players in the NHL. The most compareable contract is Matthew Tkachuk’s eight year deal with the Florida Panthers that carried a $9.5 million AAV. Next is Meier’s teammate Jesper Bratt who just inked an eight-year extension that carries a $7.875 AAV. Kevin Fiala with the Los Angeles Kings is also close, carrying the same AAV as Bratt with one less year of term.
That means Fiala should sit somewhere right between 40-plus goals and 100-plus points and Bratt’s 32 goals and 73 points from last season.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Meier outplay his contract, however. He’s already notched a 40-goal season under his belt, and there’s reason to beleive he could score even more. The Sharks power play last season ranked 28th overall in the NHL converting on 18.4% of chances. The Devils had a top-15 power play last season converting on almost 22% of chances. The exposure to Hughes, Bratt, Hischier, and Hamilton on the first unit power play is certainly an upgrade over the unit he played on in San Jose. And if you’re not buying that, take it from Meier. He’s already back to work with the anticipation he’ll be even better next season.
“I feel great,” Meier explained regarding his offseason training. “After the season, you want to take a little bit of time off, take some time to kind of reflect on everything and set new goals. I’m back home (in Switzerland) and I started training actually sooner than I usually do. I wanted to get right back at it, and have my trainer back home here. Obviously my family and friends give me a lot of energy and and recharge my batteries after a tough season with the playoffs and all that.”
“Physically, I feel great. You’re building for the season. You’re getting your strength and all that. I want to improve in those aspects every summer. I think it’s key for me to take a step every summer and get faster, get stronger because that’s part of my game. So I really take pride in the way I work in the summer.”
Whether you believe he took a discount or not doesn’t matter. Meier did, and was willing. Fitzgerald has put on a masterclass in terms of getting his players to accept fair offers. Meier’s deal could end up a bargain if he climbs closer to Tkachuk-like totals. Winning certainly helps, and that’s what the Devils did all last season. As a result, the players want to be here and have bought into the vision. This is just the start of many years of success that lay ahead.
“I wanted it to be in Jersey,” said Meier. “That’s no secret. Then you just you just go with it. Obviously, the team has their goals where they want you at and you just kind of meet somewhere in the middle where you’re both comfortable. And I feel like we did that. I’m super happy about the deal we got but I also feel comfortable that (the Devils) feels good about it. (Fitzgerald) told me that so I think that’s a very important thing.”
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