If the opening of the NHL free-agent market has taught us anything, it's that getting a deal done with the team you want can be extremely difficult. Yes, even if you're a star on the rise like Timo Meier.
But that process is, thankfully for Meier, over with now that he's inked a four-year, $24-million contract to stay in San Jose. As the Swiss winger revealed Monday in a one-on-one interview with NBC Sports California's Brodie Brazil, having a contract done now allows him to look to his next goal -- improving his individual game in order to help the Sharks hunt down the Stanley Cup next year.
"For me, it's really nice to get this done and get ready for next season," Meier said of the four-year contract. "Get the preparation going and take my individual play to another level next year and chase that Stanley Cup again."
The 22-year-old was one of the league's top restricted free agents heading into the opening of the free-agent market, and a player the Sharks wanted to get taken care of as soon as possible. After his deal was made official, Meier said on a conference call that he tried not to think about a pending deal during the 2018-19 season. But once the season was over, that was his big focus.
Getting a deal done with San Jose was important to him, Meier revealed.
"It's something that's been on my mind for a while," he told Brazil. "Obviously, a lot of long phone calls with the agent and everybody. But we feel really blessed that I got this opportunity with an organization I've been playing for the last (few) years. I think we have the greatest fans. The organization treats the players really well."
With the deal done, Meier is excited to focus on getting into shape for next season and taking his personal game to the next level. Coming off a very productive 30-goal campaign, he still believes there's plenty of room for improvement.
"I feel like I can still take my game to another level and my goal is to keep improving and be the best player I can be for the team," Meier said. "I want to improve on my skills and on my physical ability this summer to take that step and be a leader on the team. That's my goal, to help the team and be a consistent contributor. It's a fun process. Last season I think I had a pretty good year, but I still know I can do a lot more."
Meier's emergence as a power forward was recognized across the league and is an identity he wants to build on this summer while he's training back in his native Switzerland. That means hitting the gym and keeping that physicality ramped up.
"It's really important for my game to bring that physicality and that really starts in the gym -- really go to work and put the same effort into the gym as you would put on the ice," Meier explained, also mentioning how important offseason work is to staying healthy. "You want your season to be as long as possible. You want to go through it without injuries, so that's something you have to work on in the summer, to really get into good shape where you can play 82 games and go on a long playoff run. You've got to treat the body right and work on your strength."
Clearly, Meier is gearing up to make even more contributions and take on an even bigger role next season for the Sharks -- a team he believes still has a solid chance of competing for a Stanley Cup.
"I feel like we have a team where we can compete for a Cup in the next few years," Meier said. "Our goal is obviously to win a Stanley Cup."