The Union Democrat
Would the Sharks trade an unsigned Tomas Hertl if they’re in a playoff spot in March?
SAN JOSE — Unless he signs a contract extension, Tomas Hertl's name will likely be mentioned with more regularity in rumors as the calendar creeps toward the NHL trade deadline on March 21.
The latest one that made the rounds in Calgary media circles before the Sharks' game on Tuesday was Hertl to the Flames for center Sean Monahan, a conditional first-round pick and possibly a prospect.
To clarify, this was all just speculation by some on what the price tag might be to acquire a top-six centerman like Hertl: a player on a sizeable deal to balance the salary cap hits, and young assets with clear upside.
This all assumes, though, that the Sharks will be out of the playoff picture by the time March rolls around. But what if the Sharks are still in the mix and Hertl remains unsigned? What does Sharks management do then?
It's hard to imagine general manager Doug Wilson and assistant GM Joe Will letting the popular Hertl walk away for nothing. With the right deal, the Sharks could help themselves long-term but also stay competitive in the short run.
At the same time, if the Sharks continue to exceed expectations, perhaps management decides this group deserves a chance to play it out. Especially after two seasons without a playoff appearance, and if the Sharks and Hertl are close to an agreement on a contract extension. Contract talks can always resume after the season is over.
The Sharks entered Wednesday in fourth place in the Pacific Division with 29 points, three back of the third-place Edmonton Oilers. They were in the Western Conference's first of two wild-card spots, with games against Minnesota and Dallas on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, to continue a seasonlong seven-game homestand.
“The better we play, the more we can stay in this thing. I think it's going to be better for everybody in that room,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said Wednesday.
“I think it's going to be better for the whole organization. That's how guys get rewarded, is by winning by as a team and everybody else has individual success.”
For now, Hertl, 28, is just happy to have put a five-game point drought in the rear-view mirror.
Hertl has four goals in two games after his hat trick Tuesday in the over the Flames. He also scored in the Sharks' to Columbus on Sunday.
“I don't put that into my mind at all,” Hertl said Tuesday when asked if his uncertain future compounded his on-ice frustrations.
“I'm just playing now for the season. That's only what I'm thinking and I'm just trying to do my best to put our team into the playoffs.”
Hertl now has 17 points in 26 games. The Sharks are 8-40 this season when Hertl has at least one point.
“Every player in this league goes through ups and downs and when he's hot. man, he's so good and so important for our team,” Couture said Tuesday. “That goal in Columbus was a big goal for him to just let him feel good about his game and about himself.
“It looked like he had about 20, 30 pounds lifted off him and it's good to see the puck go in the net for him.”
History suggests that Wilson, like most GMS, will deal pending unrestricted free agents before the trade deadline if his team is not in the playoff picture.
In 2020, Brenden Dillon and Patrick Marleau were traded to Washington and Pittsburgh, respectively, and last season, Devan Dubnyk was sent to Colorado.
Most notably, the Dillon deal netted the Sharks a 2020 second-round pick that originally belonged to Colorado. That pick was used on forward Tristen Robins, who is ninth in the WHL with 31 points in 23 games for Saskatoon.
The Sharks were two points out of a playoff spot in 2015 when they made a handful of deadline-day deals. One of them was James Sheppard to the New York Rangers for a 2016 fourthround pick, which turned into Noah Gregor, now in the Sharks' top-six forward group.
Any Hertl deal would likely dwarf those transactions. The only question is how tough the Sharks will make that decision for Wilson and Will once the deadline gets closer.
“Tommy, it's never been brought up, it's never talked about,” Boughner said of Hertl's expiring contract. “He's a proud guy. He wants to win. I think he thinks if we win and we're going in the right direction, everything else will take care of itself. I think that's the way he's approaching things.”
NOTES: Kevin Labanc will likely draw back into the Sharks' lineup Thursday night. Boughner said. Labanc was a healthy scratch Tuesday and Boughner wants to see how he responds to watching a game. Boughner added that Adin Hill will start Thursday's game, with Alexei Melnichuk backing him up. James Reimer is feeling better after missing the last four games, but is not ready to play and may not be available to dress for a game until next week.