Once again, Tomas Hertl takes the crown.
Injuries sidelined him for much of the 2016-17 season and may have contributed to a lower scoring rate than seasons prior. But when he was healthy, he took on more ice time than previous seasons and made the move to center.
The message seems to be clear: Hertl is the direction the Sharks’ future is moving toward.
He’s going to be an important piece going forward and shouldering more responsibility this season might be getting his feet wet for bigger moves down the line.
And with Hertl’s playoff performance the past two seasons, why not? He contributed 11 points to the Sharks’ historic Stanley Cup Final run and was tasked with reigning in Connor McDavid this past post-season - a job in which he was largely successful. Hertl’s two-way game has made tremendous strides, and for someone who could become a top six center, that’s absolutely vital.
The biggest battle for Hertl comes in staying healthy. Three knee surgeries to his right knee in two years is no small thing. He also ended the season with a broken foot. Last season, he only played 49 games and his offense hit a career low. There’s no doubt that he can and will bounce back, but if he can’t keep healthy, the more pertinent question isn’t “Can he bounce back?,” it’s “For how long?”
Name: Tomas Hertl
Age (as of 9/9/17): 23
Position: Center/Left Wing
Last Year’s Ranking: 1
2016-17 Team: San Jose Sharks
Where he’ll (probably) be next year: San Jose Sharks
What we like
That big body and those silky, silky mitts.
Actually, let’s go with this quote from Joel Ward:
“Tomas has been great. He’s a big-body guy that’s just got a big...big legs, big ass. He’s a big dude, just a big slab of beef. Good hockey player.”
Yeah, that’s the good stuff.
What to improve on
The poor kid needs to stay healthy. His knee is a legitimate concern.
Two goals in two minutes for Hertl and the Danes, with Jamie Baker talking about Hertl’s big body and a win against Vancouver. Is there anything better than this?