NHL trade deadline: Devils acquire Timo Meier from Sharks in blockbuster

In Timo Meier, the Devils are landing arguably the best player available this trade deadline.

The New Jersey Devils landed their big fish ahead of the 2023 NHL trade deadline by getting Timo Meier from the San Jose Sharks in a trade packed with picks and prospects. It took several hours for the smoke to clear, but the deal is now done.

Specifics of Meier trade from Sharks to Devils

Meier is the headliner but this deal has plenty of other parts to it. Time will tell if the trade package actually helps the Sharks, or instead translates to quantity over quality.

Devils receive: Timo Meier (with 50 percent of his salary retained by the Sharks), prospect Timur Ibragimov, defensemen Scott Harrington and Santeri Hatakka, goaltender Zachary Emond and a fifth-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.

Sharks receive: 2023 first-round pick, conditional 2024 first-rounder, 2024 seventh-rounder, Nikita Okhotiuk, Fabian Zetterlund, Shakir Mukhamadullin, Andreas Johnsson.

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Meier isn’t cheap, but he’ll likely be worth it for the Devils

According to TSN and The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, one crucial aspect of the Meier trade is that it’s not expected to come with a contract extension. Meier, 26, is set to be a restricted free agent this offseason. Importantly, Meier has arbitration rights, and a qualifying offer would push him to $10 million for next season (2023-24). Various reports indicate that Meier would seek about $9M per year in an extension, so either way, he’d be an expensive player for the Devils to keep. (One measure placed his market value this season around $10.4M.)

On the bright side, Meier seems very much worth it. He’s long been a versatile player with strong underlying numbers. During this contract year, he’s put all of that promise together for the production you expect from a star. He’s already scored 31 goals in 57 games this season, four goals short of his career-high of 35 from 2021-22.

Timo Meier is off to greener pastures after developing into one of the NHL's premier wingers with the San Jose Sharks. (Getty Images)
Timo Meier is off to greener pastures after developing into one of the NHL's premier wingers with the San Jose Sharks. (Getty Images)

Meier could slide into a spot alongside fellow Swiss scorer Nico Hischier, but he also makes plenty of sense on Jack Hughes’ wing. Either way, he’s the sort of star you’d like to add when you already have outstanding players like Hughes and Hischier on cost-controlled contracts.

Meier doesn’t just add skill, scoring, and versatility to the Devils’ mix. As great as New Jersey’s often-overwhelming offensive attack can be, the Devils could use some size without sacrificing ability. Meier is the sort of “modern power forward” who has the ability to maintain play in the offensive zone, and get to the tough parts of the ice. When things clog up in the playoffs, you could use a player like Meier to make life easier for Hughes and Hischier.

This also adds intrigue to what is almost certainly going to be a first-round series between the Devils and the New York Rangers, another team that already loaded up before the deadline and could also bring in Patrick Kane. While Kane is the bigger name, Meier is a legit star, and arguably the best player available this deadline. He also should be a lot of fun to watch as part of the Devils’ fiery offense.

Harrington, 29, comes with 238 games of NHL experience, mostly with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He gives New Jersey a bit of injury cover on defense.

If any of the other Sharks pieces make an impact for the Devils, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Hatakka is a 22-year-old defenseman who’s played nine games at the NHL level, all last season. The Sharks selected the Finn in the sixth round (184th overall) in 2019. Ibragimov, also 22, went in that same sixth round (164th) and has bounced between the AHL and ECHL so far in his career. Emond rounds out that group of 22-year-olds who were sixth-rounders (in his case, 176th overall in 2018). He’s also bounced between the AHL and ECHL.

Sharks hoping to strike gold with picks, prospects

The Sharks focused on a mixture of draft picks (one assured first-rounder, another conditional) and some intriguing prospects.

When the Devils landed Johnsson from a Maple Leafs team squeezed by the salary cap, it seemed like a coup. While Johnsson peaked with an OK 35 points in 71 games last season for New Jersey, he was limited to two NHL games in 2022-23, spending most of his year in the AHL. It feels strange to count him out totally at age 28, but it’s also unclear if he’s anything more than a throw-in for the Sharks. Maybe they believe he has potential as a reclamation project on a smaller cap hit than his soon-to-expire $3.4M AAV?

Zetterlund and Mukhamadullin are the most notable prospects headed to San Jose.

Zetterlund, 23, was the 63rd pick of the 2017 NHL Draft. He’s played in 59 games the past two seasons, contributing a respectable nine goals and 28 points. The feedback is generally positive about Zetterlund’s potential to be a decent asset for the Sharks.

So far, Mukhamadullin has been playing in the KHL. The Athletic's Corey Pronman ranked the 21-year-old defenseman as the 68th-best player/prospect under 23 back in January. As far as draft pedigree goes, Mukhamadullin is the most prominent pick going to San Jose, as he was a first-rounder (20th overall) in 2020.

Okhotiuk, 22, was a Devils second-round pick (61st overall) in 2019. Between the past two seasons, the Russian defenseman has appeared in 15 NHL games for New Jersey. Some believe that the trade was delayed because of injury concerns regarding Okhotiuk.