Now that Bo Horvat has been traded and re-signed to an eight-year contract extension with the New York Islanders, the top player on pretty much every trade targets ranking is San Jose Sharks right wing Timo Meier.
It makes perfect sense, too.
Meier is just 26 years old and having his best season as an NHL player. After scoring a career-high 35 goals for the Sharks last season, he is on pace to score 46 this year. Meier entered Saturday with 30 goals and 21 assists in 53 games.
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The Sharks are not a contender in the Western Conference and currently own the fifth-worst record in the league. After giving Tomas Hertl an eight-year, $65.1 million contract last year, they could decide to move Meier and acquire valuable assets for their rebuild.
Which teams could be in the mix for Meier ahead of the March 3 trade deadline?
"As one league front office member told me, everyone is monitoring the Timo Meier situation," ESPN's Emily Kaplan reported during the first intermission of the Boston Bruins' game against the Washington Capitals at TD Garden on Saturday.
"That does include the Bruins, but also the Hurricanes, the Leafs, the Golden Knights and probably some surprise teams, too. What everyone loves is that he's under team control. He has a $10 million qualifying offer for the summer, but teams looking to trade for him are hopeful that they'll sign him to a long-term deal worth $8-9 million AAV."
Meier would be a huge upgrade for the Bruins' top six. The B's need another winger who can score. Nick Foligno is not scoring at the same rate he did at the beginning of the season. Craig Smith has scored just three goals all season, and Taylor Hall has found the back of the net just twice in the last 21 games.
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The problem for the Bruins would be re-signing Meier. He is a restricted free agent this summer and absolutely deserves to make between $8-9 million per season on his next contract. However, it wouldn't make much sense for the Bruins to give Meier that kind of money, especially when they still need to re-sign superstar right wing David Pastrnak, who could make $11 million or more on his next deal.
Paying around $20 million each season for two right wings isn't the smartest allocation of salary cap space. How would the Bruins have enough cap space to find a quality top-six center (or two) when Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci eventually retire? The Bruins don't have a Bergeron or Krejci replacement in their prospect pool, so that kind of player likely would need to come from outside the organization.
So, while Meier would be a major addition to the Bruins and make their already high-powered offense even more dangerous, it's not the best long-term fit for Boston.