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Minus Timo Meier, Sharks host new-look Canadiens

Dec 13, 2022; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils left wing Fabian Zetterlund (49) hits Dallas Stars defenseman Esa Lindell (23) during the first period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens and San Jose Sharks might not be going anywhere when it comes to the playoffs, but they certainly have some important players on the move.

The Canadiens are scheduled to visit the Sharks on Tuesday night, two days after both made significant trades.

Montreal dealt four-time 20-goal scorer Evgenii Dadonov to the Dallas Stars on Sunday in exchange for fourth-line forward Denis Gurianov.

The Sharks made even bigger waves across the NHL later in the day when they sent leading goal scorer Timo Meier to the New Jersey Devils in a huge trade that saw nine players change teams.

Meier, 26, has 31 goals this season, setting him on course to surpass his NHL career high of 35 goals last season.

In all, the Sharks sent Meier, defensemen Scott Harrington and Santeri Hatakka, forward Timur Ibragimov, goaltender Zachary Emond and a 2024 fifth-round pick (originally from the Colorado Avalanche) to the Devils. In return, San Jose received forwards Andreas Johnsson and Fabian Zetterlund, defensemen Shakir Mukhamadullin and Nikita Okhotiuk, a conditional 2023 first-round pick, a conditional 2024 second-rounder and a 2024 seventh-rounder

San Jose general manager Mike Grier said the move wasn’t part of a “full-on rebuild,” but rather a financial decision.

Meier is in the final year of a four-year, $24-million contract. He was looking to sign an eight-year extension and the Sharks weren’t in position to make that happen.

“It wasn’t something we would have been able to do and make work over the eight years or so,” Grier said. “It didn’t make sense.”

Grier was pleased with what the Sharks received in return for Meier.

Zetterlund was a third-round pick of the Devils in the 2017 NHL Draft. He had six goals and 14 assists in 45 games with New Jersey this season.

Johnsson has played in 248 NHL games over six seasons with the Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs. His best season came in 2018-19, when he scored 20 goals and totaled 43 points in 73 games with the Maple Leafs, but has played in only two games with the Devils this season.

Okhotiuk, has appeared in 15 games over the past two seasons with New Jersey, combining for two goals and an assist, while Mukhamadullin has yet to appear in an NHL game.

Zetterlund and Johnsson will play for the Sharks immediately, Grier said, while he envisions Mukhamadullin being a top-four defenseman eventually.

The good news for San Jose fans is they appear to be done trading their top players.

There had been speculation that the Sharks would unload defenseman Erik Karlsson, who is also having the best season of his 14-year career, but Grier wasn’t leaning that direction on Sunday.

“At this time, I’m anticipating he’s here for the rest of the season,” he said.

As for the Canadiens, Gurianov had two goals and seven assists in 43 games with the Stars this season (though did register 20 goals in 64 regular-season games and nine more in a Stanley Cup Playoff run that ended with the Stars losing to Tampa Bay in the Final.

Gurianov joins a team that’s already seething after losing the Ottawa Senators 5-2 on Saturday, Montreal’s fourth loss in as many games against the Senators this season.

“That’s frustrating,” Montreal forward Michael Pezzetta said. “Obviously, not happy right now, and not a good feeling.”

–Field Level Media