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Tomas Hertl

Tomas Hertl is the shining example of winning the NHL Entry Draft. He's the product of a top-notch drafting and development team operating at the height of their powers. He's the epitome of the "rich getting richer" when you examine his time in the NHL after being drafted by the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks, who had made the playoffs 8 straight times, and 13 of the last 14 before drafting Hertl, were extremely lucky to obtain him.

Tomas Hertl is essentially the only center from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft to still be operating at a top 6 level. He's the only center from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft to consistently be a top 6, and even top line, NHL center from his draft year throughout his career. This player was obtained at 17th overall in 2012 by the Sharks. That simply does not happen. These centers are drafted top 10, top 5, and top 2 year after year. For a team that needed an injection of young talent while Pavelski, Marleau and Thornton were stirring the drink, Hertl was the shot in the arm that kept this franchise punching a playoff ticket year after year until 2019.

And now he's gone. To be honest, I think we're all a little shocked. I'm certainly more shocked than I am upset. I love Tomas Hertl. He's bled teal night in and night out for a decade. He's given his all through a winning culture and a losing culture. He hasn't asked for anything but the opportunity to play hockey and show off his infectious smile. The fans adore Tomas Hertl. I adore Tomas Hertl.

Personally, this was two years too late. There was never a reason to extend Hertl other than to sell false hope to a fanbase. He was never going to be part of a winning Sharks team again, and the opportunity was there for Joe Will to acquire a 1st and a top prospect for his UFA rights + playoff run with a cheap Hertl. It didn't happen. Insert Mike Grier.

I've become a Mike Grier apologist in the last year and a half. So if you're looking for a Grier roasting, you're in the wrong place. Mike Grier is calculating. He's a smooth operator looking for a chance to turn a really god-awful team around. He's not driven by emotion. He's driven by realism. The Sharks he inherited were infested with bloated contracts given to 30+ year old players. He's successfully managed to right that ship despite some heartache.

This is painful. I didn't feel this way after Timo and I didn't feel this way after Karlsson. I didn't feel this after Burns even. I'm sad. That's not going to get better. The Sharks we knew are dead. At least on the ice. I do find it fascinating that the "good-time" Sharks of old - Grier, Marleau, Thornton, Hannan, Demers, Ricci, Smith - are all chasing that feeling of a winning Sharks team. They're all doing their part to invest in a future where the Sharks are competitive by lending their respective talents to the team. I appreciate that. I think it's neat and in some way confirms that what the Sharks were was special. It really was ya'll. Stanley Cup or not, it's hard to get that feeling back into a franchise.

If you're looking for the challenge for Mike Grier, not that he needs many more, that's the one. How do you get this team, this fanbase, this franchise, to feel like it did for 20 years before these dark times?

I think you rip the band-aid off. I think you trade Tomas Hertl. This one stings but try to understand why it happened.

The previous GM and the previous management, the one that operated at 100% efficiency and dominated trade deadline, draft, and ice for 20 years, had no idea what to do when it couldn't. They panicked and spiraled. They set this franchise back by years by refusing to rebuild. I suppose that's the trade-off of being so competitive for so many years.

Mike Grier is not afraid of that rebuild. He has embraced it. If Joe Will could have gotten a top prospect and a 1st for Hertl 2 years ago, Mike Grier had to eat two 3rd rounders and 17% retained to get those pieces now. That's the job. It ain't always pretty, but sometimes 1 year retrospective makes all the difference.

Would you trade Shakir Mukhamadullin, Quentin Musty, the 40th overall pick, a 2024 5th, and Fabian Zetterlund for Timo Meier at 8.8 million right now?


If Tomas slows down, he's a third line center making way too much money. If he doesn't slow down, then he's helping his team win the Stanley Cup. Hertl deserves the Stanley Cup and I frankly don't give a shit if it hurts that it won't be with the Sharks.

But it certainly does hurt.

619 views4 comments


Good column,, even if I disagree with much of it.

First off, you simply don't trade your team's best player, selling low, to your most hated rival. You don't do that to a fan base. If Vegas had the best offer, it couldn't have been by much.

Second, you retain 1/2 every time you trade like this, because that is how you get the biggest return. Didn't do it with Burns or EK65 or Hertl. Cumulatively (doing this off memory), that's about $40million of cap hit. Keegan, you did the analysis -- what a 1st round pick equates to in cap space. I forget the number you came up with, but I think it was around $8million of cap spac…


Amy Wirth
Amy Wirth
Mar 09

Completely agree with all of this. Thank you.


This was beautifully written. I’m thinking with my heart like us all, but the truth is this was needed 2 years ago and Grier is doing what needs to be done. Hertl is 30, just had another knee surgery, and will waste the rest of his career on this team. Grier is trying to get things demo’d out as much as possible while starting the foundation. Here we go!


Well put, and thanks so much for writing this. Glad we have you to talk about the Sharks during times like these 🦈

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