It is July of 2022, and one person, more than any other, can save the San Jose Sharks from themselves. To be candid, it is only one person. The owner is lost, and senior management deserves to be axed while, naturally, others are taking the fall. Newly hired general manager Mike Grier is likely overwhelmed by the large number of decisions which need to be made in an incredibly short time frame. And yet, one man can deliver clarity, reshape the team and put it in a positive direction. That man is Timo Meier. However, the future Timo Meier contract is a foggy cloud for now, and no one knows what will happen next.
Timo Meier Future Contract Is Key to Sharks Success
Meier led the Sharks in goals and points last season. His 35 goals might be impressive in San Jose, but it was 25th overall in the NHL (he finished 42nd in points). Genuinely good, genuinely not elite. At the end of the 2022-23 season, Meier can become a restricted free agent. The Sharks can retain him, but that would require a giving Meier a $10 million annual contract, which is what you pay elite players (just 14 players have $10 million annual deals; at most nine of these players are earning their deal). The cost is too rich for Meier. He’s good, but not $10 million per year good.
If Meier decides he’d prefer to move on from the Sharks, the team will be in between rock and a hard place. Overpay a good young player or trade him so the team doesn’t lose a major asset for nothing.
Why a Timo Meier Contract Needs to Happen
One has to ask, why would Timo Meier stay in San Jose? The team isn’t rebuilding, but they also aren’t going anywhere good, anytime soon. Many of the team’s top-paid players are both overpaid and on the downside of their careers.
The management team which brought Meier to the Sharks is turning over. For the second time in his Sharks tenure, the coaching staff is gone. If Meier felt personal loyalty to individuals in the Sharks leadership, it is likely those people are gone.
If nothing else, Meier can look at what happened with his linemate, Tomas Hertl. A potential free agent at the season’s end, the Sharks center chose to re-sign with the team on March 16, 2021. The Sharks went on to lose 13 of their next 16 games.
In Case of a Deny, Say ‘No’ Back
Meier can help himself and the Sharks by telling the team “no.” That he won’t re-sign unless the Sharks force the $10 million RFA option upon Meier to stay with the team. Should the Sharks force this? Of course not.
If Meier wants to say ‘“no,” now is the time for it. Meier is going to occupy a meaningful chunk of any team’s salary cap going forward and moves might as well happen sooner when teams have the most operating room.
Indeed, the Sharks would be wise to move the entire top line of Tomas Hertl, Alexander Barabanov and Meier together. If Meier decides he is done in San Jose, any Sharks player who wants to compete for a Stanley Cup in the next few years will want out. This would include the recently re-signed Hertl.
In essence, if Meier says “no,” the Sharks will have no choice but to accept a rebuild. This has been the right choice for the organization for the last two years. It is the right choice now and for the foreseeable future. The Sharks have already wasted too much time on failed plans.
The Timo Meier Trade
The trade the Sharks need to make is very similar to the one proposed last season. Trade the top line for six first-round selections.
To accomplish this, the team could retain 50% of Hertl’s deal. The Sharks would need to swallow eight seasons of cap hit, but the enormous return is worth it. The team would compete for the top draft pick in the next few seasons, enabling very high-end talent to enter the picture. Add in the six first-round draft picks coming from the Meier/Hertl/Barabanov trade and the Sharks will have a massive influx of young talent over the next several seasons.
Follow this path, and the Sharks should be good late this decade and loaded for the 2030s.
An Affordable Trade
Can contending teams afford the trade? Six first-rounders is a big ask, but the value is there. The salary cap, while considerable, is not an obstacle for most teams, even very good teams (prior to free agency).
Several very good teams can afford this trade including the defending champions. But once free agency hits, some of these teams, maybe most of these teams, will bring in new players, add salary cap constraints and make this trade unaffordable.
The trade is affordable, now.
For the record, a player of Meier’s stature having this much power within an organization is absurd. I can understand if Connor McDavid, Alexander Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby had enormous power within an organization. Timo Meier is a good player, but he isn’t any of those guys.
For Sharks management, retaining Timo Meier is essential. Not because it is helpful to the team’s long-term direction, but because a failure to retain Meier would be humiliating. It’d be a (well-deserved) repudiation of the team’s delusional management. It’d get senior people fired (also well-deserved).
Timo Meier has enormous power in his position in San Jose. He can use his power wisely. He can force his way out of San Jose and onto a legitimate contender. In the process, he helps himself and the San Jose Sharks.
It is decision time. It is Timo time.
Monday, Timo Meier became the first player in Sharks history to score 5 goals in a game.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 17, 2022