Timo Meier Should be the San Jose Sharks Number One Priority

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 19: Timo Meier #28 of the San Jose Sharks skates off after the play against the St. Louis Blues in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 19, 2019 in San Jose, California (Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 19: Timo Meier #28 of the San Jose Sharks skates off after the play against the St. Louis Blues in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 19, 2019 in San Jose, California (Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Now with Erik Karlsson locked in, Timo Meier will be the San Jose Sharks number one priority heading into free agency.

The 22-year-old is entering the summer of 2019 as a restricted free agent. Timo Meier put together a sensational effort in what was his 2nd full season for San Jose Sharks. The size, speed, and skill of Meier were on full display during the 2018 – 2019 campaign garnering attention from opposing teams and fans around the league.

In the 78 games Meier was present on the ice he racked up an impressive 66 points, with 30 of them being goals. The Swiss born winger got heavily involved in the play wherever the puck might be.

The Sharks 9th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft quickly became the San Jose Sharks most lethal skater at 5v5 scoring 22 goals and 25 assists leading Team Teal with 47 total points, per naturalstattrick.

His play driving ability isn’t just exhibited through point totals alone. Throughout the 2018 – 2019 regular season Timo Meier was a one man wrecking crew making opposing defenders and netminders lives miserable when he made his way into the offensive zone.

The youngest San Jose Shark launched 202 shots on goal placing tenth overall in the league at 5v5. For a visual example of how potent Timo was in the dangerous areas of the ice we can use this shot map from Hockeyviz.com It tracks Meier’s shots at 5v5 over the course of last season and it’s not surprising to see where a majority of those shots on goal plotted out on this chart.

For even more context on how effective Meier was in Teal. The young dynamic forward placed 4th in the entire league in individual high danger corsi for and placed 7th in individual scoring chances for per naturalstattrick. These stats illustrate that Meier spent a lot of time in and around the opposing netminder with the puck on his stick.

Throughout the year Meier built chemistry with center Logan Couture spending a significant time of the season tagged alongside the veteran skater at 5v5. The duo quickly became Pete DeBoer’s shut forward group with the right-winger rotating out periodically eventually settling on trade deadline acquisition Gus Nyquist.

Nevertheless the two performed well in all 3 zones often times facing an opponents best skaters. Timo Meier ended the season with the most recorded ice time among Sharks forwards against “elite” competition according PuckIQ. This stat is surprising to learn about at first but once you take into account the style of play Timo brings to Team Teal it starts to make sense why Coach Pete DeBoer trusts the 22-year-old with the responsibility of matching up against an opponents best skaters.

Meier’s physicality and offensive talent make him the ideal forward for the way teams want to play in today’s league. It’s said constantly that this is a parity league and many NHL GM’s go out of their way to copy the previous Stanley Cup Champion. Considering the St. Louis Blues just won the Cup with big physical skaters who can also do something with the puck when it’s on their stick NHL GM’s will be be searching high and low for this type of player through the draft and via free agency.

Timo fits this mold but has much more offensive upside than your average 6-0 210 pound forward. His 30 goals do not illustrate how dangerous he in the offensive zone for the San Jose Sharks during the 2018 – 2019 season.

The puck luck just wasn’t there for Meier at times. There were plenty of posts and shots nearly missing up high that could have easily inflated the future superstars goal totals. That would have certainly drove up the price for the  talented former Halifax Moosehead.

General Manager Doug Wilson and the San Jose Sharks front office are in for a tough negotiation process when it comes to extending the expiring restricted free agent. The statistics site EvolvingHockey contract projections have Team Teal locking Meier into a 6 year 5.9 million dollar deal. However this might be a bit generous considering Meier’s goal totals and the current shifting of the restricted free agent market.

If you take into fact that there are players with comparable numbers like Nikolaj Ehlers who signed a 7 year 6 million dollar deal compiling only 60 points in the previous season and William Nylander  who only scored 61 points and signed a 6 year 6.9 million AAV deal after holding out for half of the season for the Maple Leafs. These two skaters are talented but don’t  have nearly the same goal scoring prowess as the 22-year-old Swiss army knife.

Team Teal has made the appropriate moves this off-season in their efforts to resign the 3rd year pro and Doug Wilson has the reputation of grinding down players in these negotiations with restricted free agents. However Meier’s agent Claude Lemiuex’s reputation of being a tough sell so don’t expect Doug Wilson to have as easy of time getting Meier to commit as he has with other RFA’s in the past.

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Regardless of what happens it’s becoming more clear that the shape of the NHL is shifting. The big lumbering forward with stone hands is becoming extinct in today’s league. Now teams are scrambling for guys who can set screens and make space for themselves in near the crease. This puts a premium on players like Timo driving up the price of his next contract.