The Toronto Maple Leafs are a good team, with postseason ambitions. Obviously, some players could help put them over the top. Finding one of them, for the cost the Maple Leafs would be willing to pay, is a challenge.
No Question: Timo Meier Is a Producer
One player on the horizon who will likely be traded is Timo Meier from the San Jose Sharks. He’s a good player, who would be a significant upgrade for the Maple Leafs’ top six. The 26-year-old Swiss forward has been a consistent point producer over his NHL career. That’s especially true over the past two seasons.
Here are Meier’s numbers:
2021-22 San Jose Sharks 77 (games); 35 (goals); 41 (assists); 76 (points) 2022-23 San Jose Sharks 48 (games); 27 (goals); 20 (assists); 47 (points)
During the 2021-22 and the 2022-23 seasons, Meier has been almost (just two points short) a point-a-game producer. Having him on the wing position of the team’s second line would be a benefit for the team going forward.
The Problem With Meier Is His Cost
However, it would not be easy or cheap for Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas to pull Meier from the Sharks. Speculation is that the Sharks’ “ask” for Meier would be high, something similar to what the Ottawa Senators paid for Alex DeBrincat.
DeBrincat is producing for the Senators, but he also cost them a 2022 first-round pick, a 2022 second-round pick, and a 2024 third-round pick. From my perspective, unless the team has a really high first-round draft pick in the pipeline, I don’t care how many choices they trade away. Trade these picks if you will.
But, the big cost for me is Meier’s salary-cap hit of $6 million and the implications after this season. That’s the consideration I believe has to be considered. Would the move to get Meier be something the Maple Leafs would be willing to consider? The window is closing for the team to go all-in for a long playoff run. It is a time to move – no question.
Spend the Draft Picks, But Don’t Mortgage the Future
Trading for Meier would likely require the Maple Leafs to give up multiple draft picks, possibly including their first and second picks in next year’s draft. All good. The Maple Leafe might also need to add a significant prospect to the deal. I’m OK with that, too (although with some caveats about who would move).
The Sharks would likely to talked into retaining some of Meier’s $6 million cap hit if he were traded to the Maple Leafs. However, Toronto would need to move much more salary away from its current roster, possibly by trading away a player like Alex Kerfoot and perhaps Pierre Engvall as well. This season the organization’s salary-cap gurus might pull it off. However, no one can forget next season either.
There’s the issue of keeping Meier after the season or letting him walk as an unrestricted free agent. Keeping him would necessitate the team ponying up a $10-million qualifying offer. If they didn’t, he’d become a UFA.
I Can’t See Dubas Moving Players for Meier
Personally, I can’t see Dubas pulling him to the team and then letting Meier walk. He’s not Nick Foligno after all. This young player is in his prime. He’s a keeper.
So, now what? Fitting his $10 million salary under the team’s salary cap will be tough.
Who else, after this season, would have to be moved? That’s the issue; and, it’s one decision I can’t see the Maple Leafs being willing to make. As a result, I have to believe Meier is off the table as a potential top-six player in Toronto.