Who else could it have been? Tomas Hertl has had the biggest impact on the San Jose Sharks of any player in our 25 under 25 series, and could also have the biggest impact going forward.
Of all the players on this list, Hertl is the clear leader in every scoring category at the NHL level. In three seasons in the NHL, Hertl has played on the wing and centered his own line, but has undoubtedly had his most success alongside Joe Thornton. His combination of size, skill, and instincts has allowed him to fit in seamlessly alongside Thornton and fellow linemate Joe Pavelski, as the trio was the Sharks’ best line down the stretch.
Hertl has shown positive signs when centering his own line, but he hasn’t been nearly as prolific without Thornton. The possession numbers and two-way game are there, but his scoring has not come with him to this point. With Thornton only under contract for one more season, and wingers Timo Meier and Nikolay Goldobin ready to make an impact within the next couple seasons, it’s imperative that Hertl can carry the offensive load when centering his own line. If he can, the Sharks will maintain a 1-2 punch when Joe Thornton eventually retires, as Hertl and Logan Couture center their own lines.
But, the future is still incredibly bright for the young Czech. He’s going to be a fixture in the Sharks’ forward group going forward, and will be looked to help carry the organizational load when Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau eventually step away.
Age (as of 10/12/16): 22
2015-16 Team: San Jose Sharks
Where he’ll (probably) be next year: San Jose Sharks
What we like: Size, hands, scoring touch, skating ability. Pretty much everything.
What to improve on: Finding scoring consistency away from Joe Thornton’s wing.
Hertl may be known for his goal-scoring playing alongside Thornton and Pavelski, but this no-look feed against the Maple Leafs shows you shouldn’t sleep on his passing ability.