BUFFALO- The New Jersey Devils will begin negotiations this week to reach an agreement with Timo Meier long-term, chief executive Tom Fitzgerald said Tuesday.
Fitzgerald revealed his plan to speak with Claude Lemieux, Meier’s agent, over the next few days in hopes of convincing the forward to agree to a long-term deal with the Devils. Meier, 26, will be eligible to become a restricted free agent on July 1 and will achieve full free agency after next season, a scenario New Jersey would like to avoid.
« Nothing would make us happier than putting him on a long-term contract, » Fitzgerald told NHL.com during the 2023 NHL Prospects Judging Session at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo. “That’s our goal. Claude and I will discuss it.
“I want them to understand what it’s like to be in New Jersey: the organization, the travels, the life – I believe New Jersey is a diamond in the rough and there are so many positives. We want to give him the opportunity to settle down and we hope he will want to stay here. »
Meier was acquired by the Devils in a trade from the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 26 in return for forwards Fabian Zetterlund And Andreas Johnsondefensemen Shakir Mukhamadullin and Nikita Okhotiuk, a conditional first-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft and second- and seventh-round selections in 2024. The Devils also acquired defensemen Scott Harrington and Santeri Hatakka, forward Timur Ibragimov, goaltender Zachary Emond and a 2024 fifth-round pick. The Sharks withheld 50 percent of Meier’s salary.
Fitzgerald said he made the deal with the intention of including Meier in the team’s long-term plans. At the same time, he wanted to give the winger a chance to finish the regular season without worrying too much about his next contract.
« From the start, our goal was to allow him to arrive here without him feeling any pressure linked to contract negotiations, so that he could integrate into the team and feel comfortable », explained Fitzgerald.
The Swiss winger had 52 points (31 goals, 21 assists) in 57 games with the Sharks before being traded to the Devils. He had 14 points (nine goals, five assists) in 21 regular season games at New Jersey.
Fitzgerald noted Meier’s dip in offensive production in 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games (two goals, two assists) was understandable.
« It’s really hard to join a new team and learn a new system, » he said. I did it twice as a player. It’s really difficult.
“Our system is also difficult, the system in defensive territory is difficult to understand. It takes time. Coaches say it takes at least 20 games to adapt to a system. So you have to evaluate your training after 20 games, right? He must have taken some time to adapt to it. »
In 472 regular season games with the Sharks and Devils, Meier had 330 points (163 goals, 167 assists). He added 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 46 playoff games. He set a personal NHL mark with the Sharks in 2021-22 when he had 76 points (35 goals, 41 assists) in 77 games.