The Sharks still have a lot of work to do this offseason and not a lot of cap space to work with. But believe it or not, things could actually be much more difficult if it wasn't for Timo Meier.
San Jose signed the 22-year-old to a four-year, $24 million deal at the opening of free agency that will keep him in teal for the foreseeable future. Not only did the deal get done quickly, but the price tag actually helps out the cap-strapped Sharks.
Sure, getting $6 million a year doesn't seem like much of a bargain, especially when you consider Meier now is the third-highest paid forward on the team behind Logan Couture ($8 million) and Evander Kane ($7 million).
But the deal for a player who tallied 30 goals last season actually is very team-friendly when you consider that the Canadiens signed RFA Sebastian Aho, also a 30-goal scorer, to an offer sheet worth over $8 million. Or that a deal for Mitch Marner, considered the top RFA on the market right now, could be somewhere in the $9 million range -- which is no doubt giving the cap-hovering Maple Leafs nightmares.
With that mind, the Meier deal looks incredibly reasonable.
Sharks' general manager Doug Wilson expressed in a phone interview with the press on July 1 how happy the team was to get a deal with Meier done so quickly.
"We appreciate when (players) step up and take control of their situation," Wilson complimented. "Certainly helps us, but also sends a strong message about how they feel about our team, too."
Getting a deal done before another team could swoop in with an offer also potentially saved the Sharks some money. San Jose made it clear at the start of their offseason that getting Meier under contract was one of their top priorities, so getting something done before another team could offer more money and longer term than the Sharks would want to match was a big help.
With Meier's deal done on the first day of free agency, San Jose is in a better position to address its remaining roster holes and lack of cap space over the next couple of months. Had Meier and his agent wanted a longer or larger deal -- or even worse, ended up in a William Nylander-type standoff -- the Sharks likely would've been held up as far as getting some of their other players signed.
Which brings us to the rest of the offseason, one where they still have a lot of work to do. The Sharks still only have $6,382,583 in cap space and are going to have to make at least one trade to free up room to sign their next crop of free agents. Kevin Labanc and Dylan Gambrell still top the list of RFAs the Sharks probably want to be signed to deals soon.
At least with Meier's not terribly expensive deal done, the Sharks can get to work doing just that.