NHL Trade Targets: What Jets and other suitors would move for Timo Meier

Jason Bukala joins Hockey Central to discuss the Oilers actively looking to add a defenceman, what to expect from the Flames at the deadline and who the Jets would have to give up in order to trade for Timo Meier.

While some big names have already changed hands this trade season, perhaps the most impactful forward is still available ahead of March 3.

San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier is a goal-scoring power forward who is 14th in the league with 31 tallies in 57 games so far. His 13 goals on the power play rank seventh in the league this season. He’s taken 255 shots — second-most in the league — and while his 12.3 shooting percentage is right now a career-best, it’s not an unsustainable pace. At 26 years old, Meier is hitting his peak right now and, the beauty of acquiring of him is that he’d be under team control for at least another season.

Listed at six-foot-one and 220 pounds, Meier brings a physical component, too, that could complement other skilled forwards. He leads the Sharks in hits and is strong in the corners or along the boards. Meier had 41 assists last season, and could approach that level again with better linemates in a better situation. But you’re getting him to score goals and Meier’s 1.3 expected goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 ranks fifth in the league this season (minimum 500 minutes).

But while Meier could be the most impactful acquisition at this deadline, getting him will require some creativity and assuming some risk. He’s an RFA this off-season, not a UFA, so he’s not a rental in the true sense. However, he’s owed a $10 million qualifying offer this summer, which means he’d be playing one year at that rate before being UFA eligible in 2024, unless an extension is agreed to separately.

Meier could be acquired with an extension in mind, or he could be flipped again in the summer.

There’s also the matter of an injury Meier is currently dealing with. He sustained an upper-body injury over the weekend and while he missed Monday’s game and will sit out again Thursday, the team insists it’s not serious.

So which potential buyers are in need of a scoring winger the most? Who is looking for a power play boost, or perhaps a little more muscle and offence in their top six? Those are the teams that could swing big on Meier.

To get an idea of who could be in the mix and what a potential trade may look like, we turn to our scout Jason Bukala, who lays out what he would recommend to an NHL front office.

Scout’s Analysis

With so many possible destinations for Timo Meier I’m going to try to break down his value, in my opinion, and the cost to acquire his services.

The player

The first thing I do when gathering information on players is try to find trends in his game year over year. In Meier’s case, I’m digesting five years of stats, along with his most recent five-game segment.

The Sharks made the playoffs in both 2018 and 2019, advancing to Round 2 in 2018 and reaching the conference final in 2019. They have missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, though.

The reason I look at team success in relation to the player I might be recommending to trade for is to analyze his contribution offensively, defensively, special teams, etc. Meier in an interesting study. He’s definitely a goal scorer more than a distributor. He’s an obvious threat to produce offence on the power play, but he’s also wildly inconsistent defensively and doesn’t kill penalties.

Here’s a look at Meier’s past five seasons statistically:

And here’s a look at his past five games:

Some other individual statistics I consider when evaluating a player are hits, shot blocks and faceoff winning percentage.

Meier plays a heavy game in the trenches and has the leverage to body opponents off pucks in all three zones. He leads the Sharks with 112 hits.

On the other hand, he doesn’t rotate and get into shooting lanes to sacrifice himself defensively. He has only 26 shot blocks.

When he steps into the face-off circle, Meier only wins 40 per cent of his draws.

Easy conclusion

Meier isn’t a player coaches want on the ice to protect leads or defend consistently. His off-the-puck detail ranges. There are many nights he doesn’t move his feet enough tracking back through the neutral zone or jumping to take away lanes in his defensive zone.

What he does very well is provide a power-forward/goal-scoring element. He’s dangerous on the power play with his shoot-first approach. He can also coral pucks beneath the goal line or walk off the half wall and uses his large frame to protect the play as he goes to the net.

If I was part of the scouting staff of a contending team, I would absolutely recommend him for trade. He’s only 26 years young and could still have the best years of his career ahead of him. I would count on his goal-scoring and overall offence, with the understanding there will be nights we wished we could get more out of his all-around game.

In short: Meier’s offence wins out.

Potential Trade Partners

It seems like almost every day a new team enters the Timo Meier sweepstakes.

Here are some examples of teams who may pick up the phone, and what they have to offer the Sharks in a trade:

Winnipeg Jets

I like this Jets team and feel they have some of the pieces to go on a deep run come playoffs.

Connor Hellebuyck has been outstanding this year (2.39 GAA, .926 SV%), Josh Morrissey is having a Norris Trophy candidate kind of season, and their top four forwards are playing to their identity. Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kyle Connor have combined for 99 goals and 115 assists, including 32 power play tallies.

I recognize the Jets have been reluctant to make a big splash at the trade deadline in the past. They are an organization that built their team through the draft and by acquiring players with term left on their contracts, for the most part. But I feel like the city of Winnipeg recognizes this team could do something special this spring and, I’m confident saying, the organization does as well.

With that in mind, here is my hypothetical trade scenario for the Jets:

SAN JOSE TRADES: Timo Meier, 2023 fifth-round pick
WINNIPEG TRADES: 2023 first-round pick, 2025 first-round pick, Brad Lambert, Dmitri Rashevsky

Note: Sharks retain 40 per cent of Meier’s $6 million cap hit

Part of my strategy includes the reality that one of Meier or Pierre Luc-Dubois is not likely going to sign a long-term deal in Winnipeg. I recognize the risk. But I believe the Western Conference is wide open and the Jets are in the mix to do some damage. Very few Stanley Cups have been contested by teams who didn’t take some risk along the way, and in this deal the pros outweigh the cons. At worst the Jets can move each player to recoup their high-end draft capital in a trade down the line.

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Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina has a lot going for them as a team and adding Meier could potentially put them over the top in the East.

SAN JOSE TRADES: Timo Meier, 2023 fifth-round pick
CAROLINA TRADES: 2023 first-round pick, 2023 second-round pick (via Philadelphia), 2025 first-round pick, Jack Drury

Note: Sharks retains 40 per cent of Meier’s $6 million cap hit.

Vegas Golden Knights

Vegas has come into found cap space with their captain, Mark Stone, landing on LTIR due to back surgery. They have dollars to spend, and by moving Shea Weber’s contract out in a separate deal, the Golden Knights also now have greater future flexibility.

SAN JOSE TRADES: Timo Meier, 2023 fifth-round pick
VEGAS TRADES: 2023 first-round pick, 2023 third-round pick (via Buffalo), 2024 first-round pick, Brendan Brisson

Note: Sharks retain 40 per cent of Meier’s $6 million cap hit

New Jersey Devils

The Devils have been building through the draft. I’m not convinced they are as good as other teams on this list, but they would definitely add to their depth by acquiring Meier.

NEW JERSEY TRADES: 2023 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick, Shakir Mukhamadullin, Andreas Johnsson

Note: Sharks retain 50 per cent of Meier’s $6 million cap hit

St. Louis Blues

The Blues are actively re-tooling their roster and have assets to enter into a trade with the Sharks.

ST. LOUIS TRADES: 2023 first-round pick (via NY Rangers), 2023 first-round pick (via Toronto), 2024 second-round pick, 2025 seventh-round pick

Note: Sharks retain 25 per cent of Meier’s $6 million cap hit

Closing Thoughts

Before people start blowing up the comment section following these hypothetical scenarios, keep in mind teams tend to get aggressive at the deadline when they feel they absolutely require a player.

Past examples include the Tampa Bay Lightning acquiring Brandon Hagel from the Chicago Blackhawks last deadline for 2023 and 2024 first-round picks, Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh.

It’s a fun time of year to be a fan and an armchair GM.

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