There are few players as important to the San Jose Sharks as Timo Meier. The Swiss forward led the Sharks in scoring last year, setting career highs in goals (35), assists (41), and points (76). He’s a spectacular scoring winger without many weak spots in his game, and he would be expected to lead the Sharks into their next period of contention alongside Tomas Hertl.
But speaking today at the NHL’s European Player Media Tour, Meier said he’s had no discussions yet on a contract extension with the Sharks, aside from an introductory phone call with new general manager Mike Grier on July 5. Meier is entering the final season of a four-year, $24MM contract signed in 2019.
He will again be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer, meaning he’s due a qualifying offer. Meier’s actual salary in 2022-23 is $10MM, which should raise some eyebrows about the value of that qualifying offer, and rightfully so. But a change to the qualifying offer rules in the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement extension means that Meier can’t receive a qualifying offer greater than 120% of his previous deal’s cap hit, meaning he’s only owned a one-year, $7.2MM deal as compared to a one-year, $10MM deal from the Sharks.
Financially, for Meier, this is the most important season of his NHL career. At 26 years old next summer, he’ll undoubtedly sign a long-term deal that should take him well into his 30s, whether it’s with the Sharks or someone else. If his production takes a step back next season, though, the Sharks may very well want to settle for a one-year contract awarded through arbitration.
The Sharks, in any event, will likely need to make a cap-clearing move next summer as they turn the corner back toward competitiveness. The anchor contracts of Logan Couture ($8MM), Erik Karlsson ($11.5MM), and Marc-Edouard Vlasic ($7MM) don’t expire until 2026 and 2027, so relief from those deals won’t come for quite a while.