As reported by The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, the San Jose Sharks have re-signed star forward Timo Meier to a four-year contract. The deal carries a $6 million average annual value (AAV). The deal does not carry into Meier’s first unrestricted free agent (UFA) year, which means the Sharks can again offer him a qualifying offer (QO) at the end of the 2022-23 season. There’s a kicker, however.
As @PierreVLeBrun reported, Timo Meier's new deal will be 4 x $6M.— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) July 1, 2019
Definitely worth noting that the final year of Meier's deal will be $10M. Which would make his QO in 2023 also $10M. So it could end up being a 5 year deal at $34M.
It looks like Meier’s base salary is $10 million in the final year of this contract. If the Sharks want to tender a qualifying offer (which they almost assuredly will do), it will be a $10 million offer.
Meier’s name was largely omitted this spring and summer from the conversation about the league’s big RFA names. Though the Shark generates offense better than any of Mitchell Marner, Mikko Rantanen, Brayden Point, and Sebastian Aho, his relatively lower point totals suppressed his earnings. It seems the only thing keeping the Swiss winger away from an Artemi Panarin-like payday after this deal is shooting ability.
Timo Meier (4x6m extension with San Jose) is a tremendous driver of offence both at 5v5 and 5v4, doesn't give much of it back, and has an extremely good penalty differential. pic.twitter.com/sxbcUEVXcw— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) July 1, 2019
According to Micah Blake McCurdy of HockeyViz’s player impact model, Meier’s shooting ability is a bit lower than that of the average forward. The good news is this season was the first in which Meier outperformed his expected shooting percentage at even strength. If he continues to develop his accuracy and improves his defense, the sky may be the limit for the ninth-overall pick of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
Artemi Panarin signed a seven-year deal worth $11.64 million annually. He signed as an unrestricted free agent, so his price tag is inflated, but the forward’s impact on the game isn’t much different than Meier’s. The clear improvement Panarin offers over Meier is his defensive play and the aforementioned shooting prowess. What has essentially become a $10 million fifth-year option for Meier will be well worth the payday for both player and team if the winger continues along his current trajectory.
It may also be worth noting that similar contracts other players in the 22-year-old age range have signed include Nikita Kucherov, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Mark Stone. These deals were all undervalued RFA contracts at the time, and Meier’s is no different.
Last season, Kucherov signed an eight-year deal worth $9.5 million annually. Huberdeau is in the middle of a six-year deal worth $5.9 million annually, and Mark Stone famously signed a contract identical to Kucherov’s. Depending on Meier’s output these next four seasons, he’s looking at a range of outcomes. With more time on the first power play unit, more 5-on-5 ice time, and improved shooting, Meier could very well be looking at a Kucherov- and Stone-like payday at the end of the 2022-23 season.
For now, Sharks fans and the Sharks alike can enjoy the fact they have one of the league’s premier offensive talents under contract for the value of an above-average forward.
Meier’s contract leaves San Jose with $7.8 million in cap space ahead of the upcoming season. The team has yet to announce likely deals for Joe Thornton, Kevin Labanc, Antti Suomela, or Dylan Gambrell. They have announced that Tim Heed will return on a one-year contract at about $960k.
The article previously stated the Sharks now have $6.8 million in cap space. That was incorrect. It has been changed to read $7.8 million.