Just prior to the 2022-23 NHLtrade deadline, New Jersey Devils GM Tom Fitzgerals swung a deal to bring Timo Meier over from the San Jose Sharks. While the team had to part with a decent number of assets to acquire him, the deal was viewed positively, as Meier brought in not only more scoring, but also good toughness and other aspects that the Devils needed. Additionally, Meier still was under team control, being an RFA at the start of this offseason, which saw Fitzgerald lock him in for eight more seasons.
Despite having limited time to adjust to the Devils system, Meier still managed to contribute 14 points in his 21 regular season appearances for the Devils. Encouragingly, 12 of those points came in his final 15 games of the regular season, meaning there was defintely some adjustment (and injury recovery) affecting his numbers when he first joined the team. While Meier struggled to put points on the board during the postseason, with only four in the 11 games he played in (all of them against Carolina), he still managed to pester the opposition and get under their skin, leading to opportunities for his teammates. Sure, you want more offensively from the winger who would earn a contract that makes him the highest paid forward on the team this offseason, but at least he wasn’t invisible when the puck wasn’t going in for him.
That said, the Devils need Meier to be an offensive force this season. I don’t think he magically finds some new gear and winds up outscoring Jack Hughes, but he does need to post some better numbers. Prior to the trade last season, Meier was scoring at a 0.91 points per game pace with San Jose. Obviously the Sharks had fewer weapons than the Devils, but his decrease to 0.67 points per game was concerning, as the hope would be to see an offensive increase when surrounded by more talent. Meier shot at roughly the same rate (12.2% on SJ, 12.5% on NJ) but was shooting roughly one fewer shot per game (4.5 with SJ , 3.4 with NJ) which could account for some of the points per game decrease. I also wouldn’t underestimate the impact that the aforementioned injuries and team adjustment had on him.
With a brand new long term deal and a full offseason and preseason now, Meier needs to be dominant as he was in San Jose. Again, even when his offense was down, particularly in the first round of the playoffs, he still was finding other aspects he could contribute, but that’s not going to cut it this season. For the Devils to make a deep postseason run, they need all their top forwards firing on all cylinders - that includes Meier. The team hasn’t changed anything in net, meaning there will be some games with a lot of goals scored where the Devils need to outscore the opposing team.
Meier’s best NHL season to date was 2021-22, where he was just shy of a point per game with 76 in 77. The interesting stat to me? The 10.7% shooting percentage, which is roughly in line with his current career shooting percentage of 10.5% Even in a season where he had less shooting success than this past season, Meier still managed a higher point total. I think finding teammates that he has good chemistry with will be integral to a suucessful season for Timo, as it could allow him to post an assists total closer to his 41 from two seasons ago, rather than the 26 from this past season. Meier hitting 40 goals again would be helpful, but on a team that also has Jesper Bratt, Jack Hughes and now Tyler Toffolli, Meier may need to be more of a facilitator at times. Either way, goals or assists, the Devils need him to be on the scoresheet on a nightly, or almost nightly basis.
Meier isn’t the only player that the Devils need a big season from, but when you factor his new deal along with his ppg average in San Jose versus when he came over, and it’s obvious the Devils need more points from him. What are your thoughts on 2023-23 for Meier; do you think with the offseason and preseason will make the difference? How concerned are you that Meier doesn’t live up to the new deal? Do you think the points will flow with correct linemates? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!