The the NHL trade deadline coming up at the end of the week, one of the most impactful names is off the board.
The San Jose Sharks sent Timo Meier to the New Jersey Devils Sunday night, ending a few weeks of speculation that indicated the Devils were the most likely trade partner. In a large, nine-player trade, the Devils acquired Meier with Scott Harrington, Timur Ibragimov, Santeri Hatakka, Zachary Edmond and a 2024 fifth-rounder, in exchange for Andreas Johnsson, Fabian Zetterlund, Shakir Mukhamadullin, Nikita Ohotiuk, a 2023 first-rounder, 2024 second-rounder and a 2024 seventh-round pick.
“There’s never any guarantees when you start the process of building the framework of a deal,” Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald said. “Things go forwards, sideways, but at the end of the day when you talk about a player like this, the assets that are going out are going to be missed, but you need to give to get and we really wanted to land Timo Meier.”
New Jersey starts the week with a 35-15-5 record, good for second in the Metropolitan Division and third in the NHL. The Devils are looking to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2018, and with this trade, positioning themselves to do damage and perhaps win a playoff series for the first time in a decade.
Fifth in the NHL in goals per game, but 19th in power-play percentage, the Devils add a player in Meier who could complement their young core in a few ways.
A 6-foot-1, 220-pound right winger, Meier’s 31 goals this season are tied for 14th-most in the NHL, and his 13 power-play goals seventh-most. Strong on the wall and in front of the net, Meier adds a bit of muscle to New Jersey’s relatively small top-six collection of forwards and brings some modest playoff experience to the young group.
In 2019, Meier scored five goals and 15 points in 20 games as the Sharks went to the Western Conference Final.
“Playoff hockey is a different animal,” Fitzgerald said. “So the war of attrition, the little battles, the net front, the corners, the dirty areas…that’s real. The refs put their whistles away, elbows are a little higher, a little sharper. So just being able to sustain that as a player, bringing somebody in with experience is just something we really wanted to add and help educate our group. He’s 26 years old and being able to grow together is, I think, vital.”
But while the Devils take a sharp turn out of a rebuild, the Sharks are steering right into that rhubarb. The Meier trade is the first big move of GM Mike Grier’s this deadline, and now we all wonder if Erik Karlsson could find himself moved before Friday.
The Meier trade was the biggest move on Sunday, but it was far from the only one.
The Vegas Golden Knights picked up physical forward Ivan Barbashev from the Blues, Dallas added Evgenii Dadonov from Montreal, Colorado picked up Erik Johnson from Chicago and the Tampa Bay Lightning added a physical depth scoring forward (again), acquiring Tanner Jeannot from Nashville — which had its own franchise-shifting news.
Our scout Jason Bukala takes a look at the most notable deals to share his analysis of the players, and returns.
TO NEW JERSEY: Timo Meier, Scott Harrington, Santeri Hatakka, Timur Ibragimov, Zachary Emond, 2024 fifth-round pick
TO SAN JOSE: Andreas Johnsson, Shakir Mukhamadullin, Nikita Ohotiuk, Fabian Zetterlund, 2023 first-round pick, 2024 second-round pick, 2024 seventh-round pick
This space isn’t big enough for me to break down every component of the Meier trade to the Devils.
With that in mind, here’s what stands out to me about this deal:
The obvious best player in the deal is Timo Meier. I’m envisioning him skating alongside fellow Swiss player Nico Hischier.
Here’s what Meier contributed in San Jose before this trade:
The Devils improve the top of their lineup by adding a proven goal scorer who has the ability to play a power game. Meier led the Sharks with 112 hits and immediately becomes the Devils’ heaviest physical player (Michael McLeod had previously led the team with 95 hits).
I’m expecting the Devils power play to improve from its 20.5 per cent success rate.
The downside of Meier’s game is his attention to detail off the puck and his effort tracking back, at times, into his zone. The Devils’ coaching staff and teammates will have to establish their expectations of Meier defensively.
If he contributes average defensive detail and effort, it will be a win for the Devils. His goal scoring wins out.
For the Sharks, the first-round picks in 2023 and 2024 (with conditions) are fantastic pieces of draft capital added to their grid.
A prospect to keep an eye on in this transaction is defenceman Shakir Mukhamadullin. The 20th overall pick in 2020 is on loan to his hometown team in the KHL, Salavat Yulaev Ufa. He leads their team in defenceman scoring.
Here’s a look at Mukhamadullin’s stats in the KHL this season:
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound, left-shot defenceman has one of the hardest shots of any developing prospect in the league. He can beat goalies clean from distance. He needs to add more strength and weight, but the fact he is already signed to his NHL entry-level deal signals to me that he is ready to come to North America in the fall and put in the work to become an NHL player.
OTHER SUNDAY TRADES
Absolutely WOW! I’m borderline speechless analyzing the return the Nashville Predators received for Tanner Jeannot. This deal speaks to the successful blueprint the Lightning have established in recent years. Players like Barclay Goodrow, Nick Paul, Brandon Hagel and now Jeannot have added depth scoring, grit, and determination to the Bolts lineups.
Jeannot is a tough customer who is having a down year offensively. I’m not convinced Tampa needs him to come in and establish himself offensively (but it would be a bonus!). More importantly, the Lightning get one of the top heavy/hard forwards in the league (213 hits) – and he kills penalties.
Take a look at what’s left of the Lightning draft grid for the next three years:
It’s safe to say they believe they are still in their window to win another Stanley Cup.
The Preds got a boat load of draft capital, plus defenceman Cal Foote.
Foote is a big, strong, right-shot defender. I like his character. He works and he isn’t shy in the hard areas. I’m really concerned about his skating, however, and don’t see a long career ahead of him unless he finds a way to get quicker in small areas and more agile off his edges.
Here’s the Predators’ draft grid after this deal with Tampa:
It’s safe to say Nashville has positioned itself well for its impending reset of the roster and organizational depth.
I have to be honest. I thought the market for Barbashev was going to result in more of a haul for the Blues than what they got in this deal.
Zach Dean is a nice prospect who is currently playing for Gatineau in the QMJHL, and was the 30th-overall pick in 2021. He’s a 6-foot, 180-pound forward who competes shift to shift, has decent (not elite) puck touch, is an above-average skater, and has some bump to his game. In my opinion he projects to be a middle-six NHL forward if he hits his marks developing. I don’t see Dean in the NHL for at least another year – and more likely two.
Here’s a look at Dean’s stats this year:
With the addition of Barbashev, the Golden Knights get an extra layer of tenacity and grit to their lineup. Barbashev had a career year last season, scoring 26 goals and 34 assists. His shooting percentage was north of 24 per cent last year, which is an outlier and not sustainable year over year.
This year, some might say Barbashev has struggled, but I would suggest he has played more to a realistic standard and identity. His energy will be welcomed in Vegas and he adds depth in a variety of roles for the Golden Knights. Barbashev isn’t shy about throwing his weight around and he was credited with 132 hits with the Blues.
Here’s a look at Barbashev’s other key stats this season: