Tom Fitzgerald really made a heck of a move, and everyone is rightly excited. People have been discussing how good of a player Timo Meier is and how much better the New Jersey Devils will be with him in the lineup. There is no doubt that Meier will improve the offense for the Devils, and it is going to be fun to watch.
Today, I wanted to just highlight a few very specific areas where Meier will greatly improve this offense. When you look at statistics, you will often find Devils players near the top of the league, as you would expect from a top 3 team in the league. But in some areas, the best player on the team is now Timo, and it is here where we really might see a difference and improvement thanks to how he plays the game. Check out these stats from Natural Stat Trick, with expected goals from MoneyPuck:
So the overarching stat that showcases the improvement that he brings to the offense is expected goals. He is now tops on the team in expected goals, the only one over 30 at this point in the season. Nico is the next best 2.5 goals behind him, so Timo is expected to score a lot, and that should continue or even grow when he cracks the Devils lineup given the talent he will be playing alongside.
But how does he have such a high expected goals? Well, while the other stats in that chart do not entirely tell the tale, they give hints at why he might be expected to score so much. Timo is now the shots leader on the Devils' roster right now, with 18 more than Jack Hughes, who was the previous leader. He also generates a ton of rebounds. His 179 shots have led to 33 rebounds created, which is 8 higher than the next best Devil at this point, Jesper Bratt. The Devils as a whole have not generated a ton of rebounds when compared to the league, but Meier has been one of the best, and that should help with creating more goal scoring opportunities, if not for him, than for his linemates. Whoever plays with him, whether it is Hischier and Haula or Hughes and Bratt, or whatever combination ends up occurring, those guys will see some extra rebounds thanks to Meier, that is for sure.
Further, Meier is now the team leader in takeaways at 41. Hughes is close behind at 38, but that just goes to show how effective Meier has been at taking the puck away. Hughes has been known for this, and has led the team in this mostly throughout his NHL career in this category. Third place on the team right now is Nico with 29, so there is a large gap between Meier, Hughes, and the rest of the team. Those added takeaways will provide New Jersey with odd man rushes and added quality attempts on net that otherwise would have gone the other way. That cannot be understated in terms of importance.
And finally, while not technically in sole possession of the lead now, Meier now holds a share of the lead in terms of rush attempts on New Jersey, tied with Miles Wood at 31. Remember, Wood is known as a speedster, so when he gets going, he can generate rush attempts. Meier is known as a big body that can play in the tough areas of the ice in front of the net. However, he clearly also can skate with the best of them, and his 31 rush attempts so far this year prove that. Some of these probably also came from takeaways that led to rush attempts down the ice, the connection between those two is definitely there.
These are just a few of the quantifiable ways in which Meier adds significantly to this offense. These are all stat categories where he now tops the offense. And he was doing it on a team that was not nearly as good as New Jersey. He will be playing on a strong line, whether with Hughes or Hischier, with Bratt or Tatar or someone else, he will have good talent around him. That should only help to improve his numbers even more. It was a strong trade from Fitzgerald, and when you watch Meier suit up in the black and red, these are just a few categories where you should see the improvement made plain.