Sharks

How Timo Meier’s new contract actually can help cap-strapped Sharks

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How Timo Meier’s new contract actually can help cap-strapped Sharks

The Sharks still have a lot of work to do this offseason and not a lot of cap space to work with. But believe it or not, things could actually be much more difficult if it wasn't for Timo Meier.

San Jose signed the 22-year-old to a four-year, $24 million deal at the opening of free agency that will keep him in teal for the foreseeable future. Not only did the deal get done quickly, but the price tag actually helps out the cap-strapped Sharks.

Sure, getting $6 million a year doesn't seem like much of a bargain, especially when you consider Meier now is the third-highest paid forward on the team behind Logan Couture ($8 million) and Evander Kane ($7 million). 

But the deal for a player who tallied 30 goals last season actually is very team-friendly when you consider that the Canadiens signed RFA Sebastian Aho, also a 30-goal scorer, to an offer sheet worth over $8 million. Or that a deal for Mitch Marner, considered the top RFA on the market right now, could be somewhere in the $9 million range -- which is no doubt giving the cap-hovering Maple Leafs nightmares.

With that mind, the Meier deal looks incredibly reasonable.

Sharks' general manager Doug Wilson expressed in a phone interview with the press on July 1 how happy the team was to get a deal with Meier done so quickly.

"We appreciate when (players) step up and take control of their situation," Wilson complimented. "Certainly helps us, but also sends a strong message about how they feel about our team, too."

Getting a deal done before another team could swoop in with an offer also potentially saved the Sharks some money. San Jose made it clear at the start of their offseason that getting Meier under contract was one of their top priorities, so getting something done before another team could offer more money and longer term than the Sharks would want to match was a big help. 

With Meier's deal done on the first day of free agency, San Jose is in a better position to address its remaining roster holes and lack of cap space over the next couple of months. Had Meier and his agent wanted a longer or larger deal -- or even worse, ended up in a William Nylander-type standoff -- the Sharks likely would've been held up as far as getting some of their other players signed.

[RELATED: How losing to Sharks drove Avs to go big in free agency]

Which brings us to the rest of the offseason, one where they still have a lot of work to do. The Sharks still only have $6,382,583 in cap space and are going to have to make at least one trade to free up room to sign their next crop of free agents. Kevin Labanc and Dylan Gambrell still top the list of RFAs the Sharks probably want to be signed to deals soon.

At least with Meier's not terribly expensive deal done, the Sharks can get to work doing just that. 

Why Sharks believe they're turning things around after win over Oilers

Why Sharks believe they're turning things around after win over Oilers

SAN JOSE -- Suffice to say, the Sharks don't look like the same team that started a six-game homestand on Nov. 1 with one of the worst records in the NHL.

With a 6-3 win over the Pacific Division-leading Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night, the Sharks have won four in a row and appear to be climbing out of the hole they dug themselves in the first month of the season.

Not to jump the gun or anything, The Sharks aren't out of the woods yet. But after the past six games, it looks like they're finally turning the corner and playing the way they expect to.

"Every game, I feel like we're more comfortable," said Tomas Hertl, who scored a goal Tuesday. "Everybody plays better. So now we have to just keep going."

The Sharks spent a good chunk of the first month of the season looking out of sync -- offensively, defensively, you name it. The culprit? Focusing too much on individual play and not working together as a unit.

"We weren't playing our system," Marc-Edouard Vlasic summarized Tuesday. "We were freelancing. We were doing our own thing. And it's funny when you stick to it, to what you do best, the results follow."

Erik Karlsson, Vlasic's defensive partner, agreed.

"We lost ourselves a little bit," said Karlsson, who had three assists Tuesday. "But right now we're working hard for each other and getting ourselves in good spots out there."

Sticking to that system yielded positive production on Tuesday against the Oilers. The Sharks scored six goals, and largely contained Oilers superstars Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. 

"We had a big task in stopping one of the best lines in hockey and I think we did a good job of that," Karlsson said. "I think everyone contributed offensively and defensively. I think we played the right way for 60 minutes even though they scored three goals. But I think we stuck with it."

"They're at the top of the division and I thought we did a good job of defending McDavid and Draisaitl as a group tonight," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer added. "I thought we had some individuals who did a really good job, but I thought everyone on the ice with those guys was aware."

Of course, getting the jump on the Oilers fewer than five minutes into the game didn't hurt, either. 

"We got the first goal, which took a little bit of the pressure off," DeBoer said. "We got to play out in front most of the night. Those kinds of things make a difference."

[RELATED: Sharks' Baker shares mental health journey in HEADSTRONG]

Now, as Hertl mentioned, the Sharks have to keep going. With an 8-10-1 record, San Jose is still under .500.

That's not good enough for a team accustomed to playing in the postseason. 

"If you're under (.500) you're not in the playoffs," Hertl said. "We're trying the best and over the last four games, we actually look like the Sharks."

If they keep looking like the Sharks that Hertl is talking about, the outlook on the season gets a little brighter.

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 6-3 win over Pacific-best Oilers

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 6-3 win over Pacific-best Oilers

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- If there was a high note for the Sharks to end their six-game homestand on, they hit it against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.

The Sharks offensively overpowered the Pacific Division-leading Oilers at SAP Center. Logan Couture and Erik Karlsson had multi-point nights and Barclay Goodrow registered a Gordie Howe hat trick as San Jose skated to a 6-3 victory. 

Here are three takeaways from the Sharks' fourth-straight win.

Coming alive 5-on-5

As fans are probably all too aware, the Sharks had a ton of trouble scoring goals at even strength at the start of the homestand. But as they have improved over this six-game span, their 5-on-5 game has come alive. San Jose scored five even-strength goals in the first 40 minutes Tuesday, the team's most impressive 5-on-5 performance of the season. 

To make things better, the Sharks got scoring from their bottom six in Tuesday's game courtesy of third-liner Patrick Marleau's first-period goal. If San Jose can start getting production from the fourth line as well, the Sharks' offense will be in really good shape going forward.


Playing more than 20 minutes

The Sharks went into the first intermission with a 3-0 lead but had a feisty Oilers' team pushing to get on the board. And as the Sharks learned from their back-and-forth 6-5 win over the Minnesota Wild last week, only playing well for the first 20 minutes isn't a good formula for winning games. 

But the Sharks didn't sit back on their heels, instead scoring another goal 1:26 into the second period and then another before the intermission. Even though the Oilers scored three goals in the last two periods, San Jose had enough of a lead to keep the damage minimal.

Not too shabby for a team with one of the league's worst goal differentials at the start of the homestand.

[RELATED: Sharks' Baker shares mental health journey in HEADSTRONG]

The Sharks' best game to date?

Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. The Sharks have certainly played much better over the last four games, but there are still a couple of areas they need to tighten up as they try to climb their way to a .500 record.

Although the Sharks built a big enough cushion, they did let up a bit Tuesday and allow two goals in the third period to let the Oilers make things interesting. As we discussed earlier, that's exactly how the Sharks almost gave up last week's game to the Wild.

While San Jose goaltender Martin Jones did a pretty solid job against Edmonton's offense, the defense in front of him needs to stay tight late into games so they don't end up blowing any late leads.