Sharks

Sharks' Timo Meier reaping rewards with new linemates on hot streak

Sharks' Timo Meier reaping rewards with new linemates on hot streak

Timo Meier is making the most of his time with his new linemates. 

The Sharks winger now has six points (three goals, three assists) in four games since joining veteran center Joe Thornton and winger Kevin Labanc on a line, including the game-winning goal in Friday night's 3-2 comeback victory over the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place. 

"I think the biggest thing is we're trying to have fun and work with each other, have a lot of talk out there which makes it easy," Meier said of Thornton and Labanc in an interview with Sharks broadcasters Randy Hahn and Bret Hedican after the game. "We all know what Jumbo's capable of, but we're just trying to follow his lead ... and doing everything we can in our hands as a line to try to have team success."

The trio turned in their best game together Friday night. The Sharks out-shot the Jets 8-2 and out-chanced them 7-5 with the trio on the ice in 5-on-5 situations, according to Natural Stat Trick. Labanc and Meier combined for eight shots on goal at all strengths, finishing first and second, respectively, among Sharks skaters. 

Meier has led the way for his new line, and the Sharks as a whole, at even strength over the last four games. He is tied for the team lead in 5-on-5 shots (11), while leading the team in expected goals (1.5) and high-danger chances (eight) since the change. 

"He's playing heavy," teammate Evander Kane told reporters Friday night in Winnipeg. "He's skating. He's a big, powerful guy with a good scoring touch. When he goes hard to the net, he can finish. That was another example of that tonight."

The 23-year-old Meier was expected to take another leap forward in his fourth NHL season. Meier scored 30 goals for the first time in his career in 2018-19, and the Sharks hoped he, Labanc and other young forwards would fill the void left by departing captain Joe Pavelski and wingers Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist. 

[RELATED: Should Sharks retire Jumbo, Patty's jerseys on same night?]

The Sharks, as a whole, haven't met expectations and Meier is well of his 30-goal pace from a year ago. Scoring 25 this season remains within his grasp, however. Friday's game-winning goal was his 19th of the season, so Meier now is one goal shy of becoming only the fourth Shark to score 20 goals in three of their first four seasons. 

Only three Sharks have at least three 20-goal seasons before turning 24 (Jeff Friesen, Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture), and Meier should join them soon enough.

Sharks' Tomas Hertl explains funny, simple reason why he wears No. 48

Sharks' Tomas Hertl explains funny, simple reason why he wears No. 48

Tomas Hertl has a huge year ahead of him. As he returns from ACL and MCL surgery, he and his wife Aneta are expecting the birth of their first child in November.

Sharks fans everywhere can't wait for No. 48 to get back on the ice. But how did he pick that number? It’s quite simple.

“They give it to me,” he wrote in a recent NHLPA questionnaire.

Enough said.

But before Hertl was the Sharks’ All-Star center, he had other aspirations.

Believe it or not, he wrote in the questionnaire that he wanted to be an architect if he wasn’t going to be a hockey player. But he was born to play hockey.

His dad, Jaroslav, during the winter in his native in Prague, would create nets (measuring the perfect size) on the frozen ponds near where he lived. Hertl’s dad would even kick off skaters if they were recreationally using the area where he wanted to play hockey.

[RELATED: Sharks avoid nightmare scenario in 2020 NHL Draft lottery]

As much as Hertl could have thrived as an architect, his career as a hockey star was destined.

NHL, NHLPA agree to four-year CBA extension through 2025-26 season

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USATSI

NHL, NHLPA agree to four-year CBA extension through 2025-26 season

While MLB and the MLB Players Association spent the last few months bickering, the NHL and its Players Association used the last few weeks to hammer out a new CBA.

On Monday, the two sides announced that they had agreed to a memorandum of understanding for a new four-year extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

If ratified this week, the CBA would run through the 2025-26 NHL season, and expire Sept. 15, 2026.

The NHL and NHLPA also were able to iron out details for the season restart, but because the Sharks aren't heading to one of the two hub cities, that part doesn't really affect them.

TSN's Frank Seravalli reported Sunday that part of the new CBA stipulated that the 2020-21 salary cap would be frozen at $81.5 million, and wouldn't rise until the league reached $4.8 billion in hockey-related revenue.

The Sharks have a lot of free-agent decisions to make this offseason, so a salary-cap freeze doesn't help them.

According to CapFriendly.com, the Sharks will enter the offseason with $14,881,667 in cap space. But with Joe Thornton, Melker Karlsson, Stefan Noesen, Aaron Dell and three other players hitting unrestricted free agency, San Jose might not be able to bring all of them back.

Additionally, Kevin Labanc headlines the Sharks' four restricted free agents. General manager Doug Wilson is going to have a tough time re-signing everyone.

[RELATED: Could Burns be left unprotected for expansion draft?]

If you're keeping track, that's 11 unrestricted or restricted free agents with just under $15 million in cap space to sign them. A few players probably aren't returning next season.

While the Sharks have their work cut out for them this offseason, the league and the Players Association took care of business well ahead of time.