I wasn’t exactly concerned about Tomas Hertl’s ongoing contract negotiations with the Sharks, but I’ll admit to breathing a sigh of relief when I saw Friend of the Blog Kevin Kurz’s tweet on Wednesday afternoon. Hertl will be a Shark for at least the next two seasons, and when this contract expires he’ll still be a restricted free agent.
Yes, the deal is a good one for the Sharks, likely due to Hertl’s knee injuries. We still don’t know the full extent of the damage done to his knee in game two of the Stanley Cup Final and likely won’t until he’s on the road to recovery. Putting the money and the knees aside for a moment, this deal is a great one because it keeps one of the best forwards on the team in teal.
The young forward shined while playing with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, but what’s most telling about Hertl’s talent is what he did apart from them. When Logan Couture was out for an extended period, Hertl spent some time centering his own line. Playing between Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward, the trio posted a corsi-for percentage of 58.24 in 168.82 minutes of ice time.
If that sounds good, it’s because it is good. In fact, that’s the highest CF% for any line combo Hertl was involved with during the 2015-16 season — yes, even better than his time spent with the Joes. Obviously level of competition, zone time and the like can all add necessary qualifiers to that stat, but the takeaway isn’t that Marleau-Hertl-Ward should be the new top line, it’s that Hertl can absolutely stick as an NHL center.
That’s very good news for the Sharks. The true depth players of the San Jose roster were exploited against the Penguins, particularly once Hertl got injured. The Sharks become a deeper team when they play Hertl on the third line, assuming of course they find a competent replacement for the top line.
Let’s assume Timo Meier makes the team out of training camp (I think he will) and plays on the top line (ditto). That would set the Sharks up thusly:
Pavelski - Thornton - Meier
Donskoi - Couture - Ward
Marleau - Hertl - Karlsson
Nieto - Tierney - Wingels
So the Sharks could still stand to bring on another bottom six forward, but this is a very promising start. If the Sharks’ biggest hole in the forward group before free agency comes on the fourth line, they’re in good shape.
Here’s a look at Hertl’s stats in three NHL seasons:
And his HERO chart:
And his beautiful smile:
Wait, I got side tracked. Where was I? Oh yeah, let’s take a look at some of Hertl’s most memorable goals with the Sharks.
“He does it! He scores again! And what! A! Goal!”
A goal so nice it left even Drew Remenda speechless. God bless, kid.
It came in a losing effort, but Hertl scored the Sharks first ever Stanley Cup Final goal. That’s pretty dang cool. Okay, one more.
Hertl has some pretty nifty hands and he showed them off on this play. And it came in a win against the Ducks, which is always a highlight for me.
I’ll let Tomas close this one out for me.
Today after exersice...i have a lot of new young friends:-D..fun must be alwalys:-)) pic.twitter.com/oM005RF2Py— Tomáš Hertl (@TomasHertl48) January 31, 2014
See you tomorrow.