The New Jersey Devils made their big trade deadline splash five days ahead of schedule, acquiring winger Timo Meier in a blockbuster deal with the San Jose Sharks.
The deal had first been reported by TSN and The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun. The Devils had been rumored to be one of the finalists in the running for Meier in the days leading up to the trade coming together.
“When you can add a player like Timo Meier to the lineup that you feel is is growing and getting stronger each day, it really puts a smile on my face,” general manager Tom Fitzgerald said during a late-night Zoom call. “I think it’s the skill set. The ability to score goals and the body size. The bigger body, the harder body. Just you know size helps. So it was something I think we all believe we could add. … He helps make us a bigger, stronger team.”
The Devils have been one of the best teams in the East this season and won four of their last five games and have gone 7-3 since the NH All-Star break. The Devils are currently three points back of the Carolina Hurricanes for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and now add a 31-goal scorer to their roster for the final push toward the postseason.
Meier told reporters that he was aware of how well New Jersey had been playing this year.
“Yeah, definitely aware of how well they’re doing,” Meier said. “Like I said, I follow obviously my Swiss buddies and once and a while I check how they’re doing. So definitely that’s a team everybody knows they’re doing well, because the style of play they play and it’s fun to watch. It’s it’s tough to play against, so we faced them twice. You could tell there’s lots of skill, lots of power on that team.
“I think it’s tough to not see how well they’re doing by the fact they’ve had such a great season so far.”
The trade also sends forward Timur Ibragimov, defensemen Scott Harrington, Santeri Hatakka, goaltender Zachary Emond and a fifth-round pick (originally Colorado’s selection) in the 2024 NHL Draft to New Jersey. In return, the Devils sent a conditional first-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, defensemen Shakir Mukhamadullin and Nikita Okhotiuk, forwards Andreas Johnsson and Fabian Zetterlund, a conditional second-round selection in the 2024 NHL Draft and a seventh-round selection in 2024.
Meier had been having another standout campaign for the Sharks this season after setting career highs in goals (35) and assists (41) last year. He is well on his way to topping those this season as well, but his individual success hadn’t led to the Sharks being a very competitive team on the ice.
The addition boosts the Devils’ offense and gives center Nico Hischier a teammate he is already very familiar with someone that he played with on the Swiss national team.
Meier is in the final year of a four-year deal he signed with the Sharks in 2019 and would become a restricted free agent this offseason if. The Devils’ goal is to work out an extension with the forward.
Fitzgerald seemed confident that the organization could convince Meier to want to be in the Garden State long term.
“What I am confident in is who we are, what we can sell, our team,” the Devils GM said. “I’ve always said this, New Jersey is a diamond in the rough. People outside of here do not know what it’s like until you get here and go wow, this really is incredible.”
He added: “We’re very confident that what we can provide and sell is something that we believe Timo will buy.”
As part of the trade, the 2023 first-round would transfer to New Jersey’s first-rounder selection in 2024 if it is a top-two pick. There are also a number of conditions for the second-round pick being sent in the deal.
According to a release from the Devils, should New Jersey reach the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals (and Meier plays in at least 50% of Meier’s Club’s Playoff games in 2023) or the 2024 Eastern Conference Finals, New Jersey will transfer its own first-round pick in 2024 NHL Draft to San Jose (top 10 protected), instead of its own second-round pick in 2024 NHL Draft.
If New Jersey’s first-round pick in 2024 NHL Draft is a top 10 selection, New Jersey will have the option to instead transfer its own first-round pick in 2025 NHL Draft to San Jose. Should New Jersey transfer its first-round pick in 2024 NHL Draft per the original condition (top-two above in Condition A), New Jersey will instead transfer its own first-round pick in 2025 NHL Draft should they reach the 2024 Eastern Conference Finals.
Meier has been dealing with an upper-body injury, but Fitzgerald wasn’t concerned about the injury and Meier described it as day-to-day. He said late Sunday night that his first priority was to get back to being fully healthy.
“I want to be my best self I can be for that team, for their organization,” Meier said. “So first things first, I got to make sure I’m 100 percent healthy. So when I come in, I can really help them take the next step. So yeah, that’s kind of my goal right now to get healthy and then you know, get this thing started.”