Ex-Sharks star Meier makes immediate impact in Devils' OT win


Former Sharks star Timo Meier wasted no time making his presence felt for his new team, the New Jersey Devils.

Traded to the Devils on Feb. 26, Meier missed New Jersey's last two games as he recovered from an upper body injury that had kept him out since Feb. 18. But finally cleared to play, the 26-year-old scored his first goal for the Devils just over nine minutes into their overtime win against the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday night at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz.

Meier's goal, which gave the Devils a 1-0 lead, was his 32nd of the season, putting him three markers away from tying his career high of 35, which he accomplished last season for the Sharks.

The Sharks and Devils announced a massive nine-player, four-draft pick trade last Sunday, a deal that San Jose received mixed grades for because of what they got in return for a multiple-time 30-goal scorer still in his prime.

But after Meier and first-year Sharks general manager Mike Grier spoke to the media the night of the trade, it became clear that the split between the two sides was inevitable as there had been no talks of a contract extension for the former first-round draft pick.

"There never really was any further talks about an extension, so at a certain point, you kind of think there's going to be a trade happening," Meier said last Sunday when asked by San Jose Hockey Now's Sheng Peng. "But you never know what happens in this business until the trade deadline is over. I was ready for everything to happen but also with the main focus on the hockey."

While Grier won't commit to a full-scale rebuild, he noted that by trading Meier, the Sharks created future salary cap flexibility by moving a player who is about to enter restricted free agency this summer and carried a $10 million qualifying offer.

"It's never easy or never feels great to have to trade someone like Timo, as talented as he is and as good of a player as he is, but I think there are some realities at play here with the salary cap and the salary structure of our group," Grier told reporters last Sunday. "I think you guys can see how great of a year he was having, how great of a year Erik [Karlsson] is having and where we still are, results-wise in the standings. So to pay him the money he's looking for and wanted just didn't quite seem to make sense and line up where we are headed as a franchise and where we're at.

"We don't want to keep spinning our wheels here. We're trying to move this forward, and like I said, it's unfortunate that we had to move on from someone like Timo, and wish him all the best and thank him for everything he's done for the organization and the city. But this is something that pushes our group forward."

RELATED: Three takeaways from Sharks' Meier trade with Devils

From the Sharks' perspective, two of the four players they acquired in the deal already are playing for San Jose. Winger Fabian Setterlund has yet to record a point in three games while Andreas Johnsson has two assists in three games.

The other two players -- defensemen Shakir Makhamadullin and Nikita Okhotiuk -- are prospects who likely won't make an impact for the Sharks this season. Neither will the future draft picks San Jose received from the Devils.

Meier was the big piece the Devils needed as they make their Stanley Cup Playoff push, and in his first game, he already made an impact.

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