The San Jose Sharks' struggles this season led to reports of management's willingness to entertain offers for almost everyone on the roster. While some pundits muse over high-salaried star Erik Karlsson's trade value, Timo Meier could become a more likely trade chip.
Coming off a career-best 76-point performance in 2021-22, Meier is in the final season of his four-year, $24-million contract. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer, the 26-year-old winger will also be a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility.
Meier's annual cap hit is $6 million, but he's earning $10 million in actual salary this season. That's also how much it'll cost the Sharks to qualify his rights unless he and management agree to a lesser annual cap hit on his next contract.
The Athletic's Eric Duhatschek wondered if the Sharks will end up peddling Meier before the March 3 trade deadline if he's unsigned by then. He felt the winger's backloaded contract could turn him into a playoff rental player as few clubs would be able to afford his hefty qualifying offer.
Perhaps the Sharks can get Meier to agree to a more reasonable cap hit on a long-term contract extension. However, that might not be possible if he exceeds 75 points again this season. He has five goals and 11 points in 14 games this season, which puts him on pace for 64 points in 82 games so far this season.
His contract status could also affect whatever return the Sharks might hope to get for him. Interested parties could prove reluctant to pay a big price for a talented winger like Meier if they're to face an arbitration hearing next summer for a player who could depart in a year's time via free agency.