Fabian Zetterlund is no Timo Meier, and that’s okay.
The San Jose Sharks acquired Zetterlund in February, part of a 13-piece trade that sent 40-goal scorer Meier to the New Jersey Devils.
While Zetterlund wasn’t necessarily the centerpiece of the package that went to San Jose – top prospect Shakir Mukhamadullin and a 2023 first-round pick were – the 23-year-old winger was enjoying a solid rookie campaign with the Devils at the time of the trade, with six goals and 14 assists in 45 games.
“He’s shown that he can be a good NHL player. Is it just a good third-liner, who can play up?” an NHL scout from outside the Sharks organization told San Jose Hockey Now about Zetterlund then.
Scouts on What Sharks Are Getting in Mukhamadullin, Zetterlund, Okhotiuk (+)
While a reliable third-liner is a far cry from a first-liner like Meier, that’s still a plenty valuable forward.
“He still has some upside and he’s just finding his game,” the scout added. “The opportunity will be good for him.”
Except it wasn’t good: Zetterlund had zero goals and three assists in 22 games for the San Jose Sharks. That’s well short of his 82-game pace with New Jersey, 11 goals and 26 assists, about right for a third-liner.
“He’s still finding his way,” Sharks head coach David Quinn acknowledged three weeks before the end of the regular season. “Timo texted me yesterday, we were going back and forth. He was talking about how difficult the transition was to get traded. So it happens to everyone.”
The San Jose Sharks can only hope the transition is complete for Zetterlund next season. He’s still young, and the quality of his play on the Devils was a real thing.
I looked back at the pending RFA’s New Jersey tape to get a sense of why San Jose dealt for him. There are two consistent and critical positives that I saw.
An ex-NHL head coach also added his thoughts.