When Tomas Hertl was four years old, Joe Thornton made his NHL debut.
Now, they’re linemates.
That’s one of the big stories as San Jose opens the 2013-14 campaign against Vancouver on Thursday, as Hertl will skate on a line with Thornton and defenseman-turned-forward Brent Burns.
“Tomas being my linemate, it’s been a lot of fun,” Thornton told CSN Bay Area. “Me and Burnzie have been smiling a lot, just enjoying his company out there. I think with getting some young guys in here, it adds a little bit more enthusiasm in the room.”
Hertl is only 19 years old, but hardly a kid. He’s got good size (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) and has spent the past two seasons playing against men in the Czech Extraliga, scoring 30 points in 43 games for HC Slavia Praha last year.
The 17th overall pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Hertl is looking to make an impact after starring in the preseason. He scored 3G-1A in four games and will have a chance to fill the void at forward after Raffi Torres was lost for 3-4 months following ACL surgery.
“I think that’s what you’re going to see with Tomas this year, each week he’s going to get better and better,” Thornton explained. “Every week he’s been here he’s gotten better, and it’s a good sign.”
The Montreal Canadiens announced that they have signed Tomas Fleischmann to a one-year contract.
According to TVA Sports, the deal is worth $750,000.
The 31-year-old was invited to camp on a professional tryout, but his preseason performance showed that he could still contribute at the NHL level.
Fleischmann found instant chemistry with new linemates David Desharnais and Dale Weise, and it looks like the trio will open the regular season as Montreal’s third line.
The veteran winger started last season with Florida, but was traded to Anaheim on Feb. 28. He had a hard time cracking the Duck’s lineup and was a healthy scratch in most of their playoff games last spring.
Fleischmann scored eight goals and 27 points in 66 games last season.
It looks like Emerson Etem survived the New York Rangers’ training camp cuts, but that doesn’t mean he thrived.
Instead, it sounds like he has a lot of room to improve, especially considering this quote from Rangers GM Jeff Gorton via the New York Post:
“His camp has been pretty average, and I think he knows that, I think we all know that,” Gorton said. “We’ve known him for a long time. We know the player, we scouted the player, we’ve liked what we’ve seen. He’s yet to show that to maybe all of you guys, but we have faith that in time he’s going to show us that.”
Fair or not, many will turn the heat up a little bit extra on Etem if he struggles because he was part of the trade that sent Carl Hagelin to the Anaheim Ducks.
At 23, he’s at that awkward stage where he’s producing nicely at the AHL level but struggling to put up points in the NHL.
He has time to develop, yet as a first-rounder (29th overall in 2010), the word “bust” is lingering off in the distance. It sounds like he didn’t take a great step in the other direction this month, either.
(H/T to Rotoworld.)