Winners and Losers of the Timo Meier Trade to the Devils


Winners and Losers of the Timo Meier Trade to the Devils

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    SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 14: Timo Meier #28 of the San Jose Sharks skates during warmups before the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at SAP Center on February 14, 2023 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images

    Another big name in one of the most eventful pre-trade deadline periods in recent memory is now off the table: The San Jose Sharks have officially traded Timo Meier to the New Jersey Devils.

    The 26-year-old winger has been the talk of the trade deadline rumor mill for good reason, with 31 goals and 52 points in 57 games this season. Meier is a high-volume shooter who has generated tons of offense on a team that is clearly tanking, so imagine how well he’ll do alongside the exciting Devils core.

    The price was high, with several teams offering the Sharks first-round picks and top prospects, but ultimately the Sharks sent Meier in a package with left-shot defenseman Scott Harrington to the Devils for a 2023 first-round pick, a 2024 conditional first-round pick, left wing depth forward Fabian Zetterlund (six goals, 14 assists, 20 points in 45 games), 2020 first-round defense prospect Shakir Mukhamadullin, defense prospect Nikita Okhotiuk and fringe NHL/AHL left wing Andreas Johnsson.

    Whew, clearly the Sharks had options and made it out huge in a resounding win for them given their rebuilding circumstances. But in a situation with so many moving parts around the league, who else has won and lost the Meier trade? Let’s get into it.

Winners: Tom Fitzgerald and Lindy Ruff

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    Tom Fitzgerald pulls off a blockbuster as GM of the Devils

    Tom Fitzgerald pulls off a blockbuster as GM of the DevilsAP Photo/Kathy Willens, File

    It feels like all the think pieces calling for Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald’s job and all the chants at the Rock calling for Devils head coach Lindy Ruff’s job were in the distant past, but nope, they were earlier this season. One historic regular-season win streak and a few obstacles overcome later, and the Devils are No. 2 in the brutal Metropolitan Division, everyone is happy and jobs are secure.

    The “fire Lindy” chants turned into “sorry, Lindy” chants. Perhaps a “thank you, Lindy”—or at least a “thank you, Fitzy”—is up next.

    Not only does winning the Meier sweepstakes immediately improve the team and give Fitzgerald some significant clout, but it also makes Ruff’s job that much easier. Part of being a good GM is making the rest of your staff look good, and that’ll be a mission accomplished for Fitzgerald and Ruff once Meier hits the ice for the Devils. Well, that is if Ruff doesn’t overcomplicate the situation and gives the people the Jack Hughes-Meier combination they so crave.

Losers: Western Conference Contenders

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    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 30: Jack Eichel #9 of the Vegas Golden Knights moves in to score a goal in overtime against Connor Hellebuyck #37 of the Winnipeg Jets to win their game 2-1 at T-Mobile Arena on October 30, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Hello? Earth to the Western Conference? Is anyone home?

    Listen, Eastern Conference bubble teams have a considerably tougher path to the playoffs, with a tight race between the middle-of-the-pack Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals that has been shifting almost daily. It makes sense that the Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs have been among the buyers so far.

    Meanwhile, the Western Conference path is more clear-cut—the bad teams are really bad, and the playoff picture is more obvious. Regardless, you’d still think there would be more activity as the top teams in the West gear up for their playoff runs. The Pacific-leading Golden Knights were in on Meier until the very end, but they ultimately deemed the two potential first-round picks and slew of prospects asking price too high.

    The stronger the East gets, the more spicy these first few playoff rounds are about to become. That’s wonderful for us spectators, but you wonder if we’re going to get the best hockey in the first few rounds and risk the Stanley Cup Final being more of a dud. You also wonder if the sellers who have been almost exclusively from the West are going out of their way to avoid selling in-conference.

Winners: Fans of the Rangers-Devils Rivalry

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    A fan takes off his shirt and runs down the stairs during the third period of an NHL hockey game between the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers, Tuesday, March 21, 2017, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    AP Photo/Julio Cortez

    It’s always that much more fun when rivalries play out off the ice as well as on the ice. With all the moves the Rangers have already made leading up to the deadline (Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Motte, Niko Mikkola and the developing Patrick Kane situation), and the Devils now going in on Meier, things are heating up on all fronts between the Devils and the Rangers.

    A playoff series between these two is the most likely scenario if the season were to end today, and now I’ll be extremely disappointed if it doesn’t happen. This geographical rivalry was already heated, now imagine the level of play and passion with all of these star players suddenly added to the mix.

    It makes me a little sad that only one of these teams can advance to the second round in this scenario, but hey, it’s a first-round matchup for the ages.

Losers: The Metropolitan Division-Leading Hurricanes

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    RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Seth Jarvis of the Carolina Hurricanes prepares to take the ice prior to the game against the Anaheim Ducks at PNC Arena on February 25, 2023 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Josh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Josh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images

    There are a few different ways you can look at the Hurricanes’ trade history under owner Tom Dundon and GM Don Waddell. They’ve been patient and shrewd enough to avoid any major blunders, they have a knack for those under-the-radar, sneaky-good moves, and they value the opposite of a one-year rental.

    It feels like they’re always doing something, but never doing the thing. That happened again when it was reported Saturday that they were officially out of Meier contention.

    With a team like this, you always have to wait until the last second before condemning them for what they haven’t yet done, but I’m sure fans feel a bit of frustration about this, considering goal-scoring has been the main playoff issue for the past few seasons, Max Pacioretty’s $7 million is going to be off the books (and the team is in need of a replacement for him) and Meier would have been a perfect fit on this iteration of the Canes.

Winner: Jack Hughes

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    NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 25: Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils skates in the first period of the game against the Philadelphia Flyers on February 25, 2023 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Rich Graessle/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Rich Graessle/NHLI via Getty Images

    One of the most underrated aspects of these big moves is how excited potential future linemates must be. Imagine you’re Hughes, already having a career season with 36 goals and 74 points in 55 games, and you’re told you’re going to be able to dish it to a finisher like Meier for the rest of the season?

    I’m sure the Devils will try multiple Meier deployments, but one of them will certainly be alongside Hughes on the first line, and they’ll probably try the Nico Hischier line. Don’t look now, but Hischier is also having himself a season with 25 goals and 55 points in 58 games.

    It’ll be so fun to watch Meier go from (let’s be honest) an offensive wasteland to playing next to two point-per-game centers.

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