There's been plenty of trade speculation thrown around concerning pending unrestricted free agents like Ryan O'Reilly and Bo Horvat this season, but not near as much concerning pending restricted free agent Timo Meier, however.
Sure, the San Jose Sharks still exercise some control over Meier's situation given that he'll be an RFA this upcoming offseason, but it's also worth noting that Meier is due a $10 million qualifying offer if the Sharks want to keep him around. What that means is that the Sharks will have to start their negotiations at $10 million per season in order to retain Meier's rights. He has been paid $6 million the past four seasons and has delivered good value at that price, but I don't think the Sharks are too interested in bumping up his salary to $10 million. Should the Sharks, or any other team for that matter, balk at the $10 million qualifying offer then Meier will become an unrestricted free agent free to sign with any team for any amount.
It's this situation that has maybe scared some teams away from Meier, but TSN insider Pierre LeBrun reports today that the Buffalo Sabres have gotten in on the action surrounding Meier and have shown significant interest in acquiring him for the long-term.
From LeBrun's most recent Insider Trading segment on TSN:
He (Meier) has a $10 million qualifying offer and that has some teams concerned about how they might navigate that.
Obviously the contenders... Toronto would make sense, Carolina has some interest because again they see Meier as a long-term fit. But also a team, the Buffalo Sabres has reached out to San Jose. This could be the type of player that sees interest from teams that aren't even in a playoff spot.
- Pierre LeBrun
Honestly, I see Meier as a good fit for the Sabres provided that they don't overpay him on a contract extension. He'd fit in well with their big power forwards like Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch and would give them some additional depth scoring. In a perfect world they'd add him on a short-term deal, but I think that Meier and his player agent Claude Lemieux will be looking to hit a home run on Meier's next contract.