One reason why the San Jose Sharks couldn’t overextend to keep captain Joe Pavelski: they needed to focus their attention on re-signing their most important young front-line forward. Timo Meier has arrived to represent the next generation of Sharks stardom. On Monday, he officially inked a four-year contract as an RFA at $24 million with a $6-million cap hit. As pointed out by CapFriendly, the final year of the deal spikes to $10 million, meaning the Sharks can qualify him at $10 million in his final season as an RFA, essentially turning the contract into a five-year, $34-million deal but coming in it a greatly reduced cap hit.
It’s been a steady progression toward upper-echelon production for Meier, whom the Sharks chose ninth overall in the 2015 draft. He broke out for 21 goals in his sophomore season of 2017-18 and really took a step forward this past season with 30 goals and 66 points, including 250 shots. The closer you squint at Meier, the more impressive he looks. Among 365 forwards who played 500 or more minutes at 5-on-5 this past season, he ranked 15th in Corsi For per 60 minutes and overall Corsi. He was 11th in team scoring chances per 60 and 10th in team high-danger chances for per 60. He was fifth in the NHL in individual shots per 60 minutes and second in individual scoring chances for per 60 minutes. He’s still just 22, and he’s blossoming into one of the league’s best young power forwards.
Based on his production, a long-term deal at an AAV closer to $8 million would’ve been justified, so he’s an absolute steal for the Sharks. From Meier’s perspective, he has a chance to post the best numbers of his career during the next four to five prime seasons, then cash in with a massive payday at 26 or 27 years old at peak value. There are clear benefits for both sides.
Meier and Erik Karlsson now eat $17.5 million of San Jose’s cap space, leaving $7.88 million, which should be enough to re-sign RFA Kevin Labanc and UFA Joe Thornton, assuming the plan is indeed to bring back ‘Jumbo.’ The Sharks are a weaker team on paper at the moment with Pavelski gone, but further progression from Meier seems likely and can offset that departure.
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