Hertl responds to demotion, back on Sharks’ top line

After an ugly slump that saw him dropped to the fourth line, San Jose sophomore Tomas Hertl has responded with four points in his last four games and, on Tuesday, a promotion to the club’s No. 1 unit prior to tonight’s game in Florida.

“It was a message,” head coach Todd McLellan said of Hertl’s demotion, per CSN Bay Area. “But it was also to reset him and to restart him.”

Hertl, 20, has seven points through 16 games this season — a decent clip, but less than the 0.68 points-per-game he averaged during 37 contests in his rookie campaign (Hertl finished with 15 goals and 25 points in 37 games). There are heightened expectations for the former first-round pick but, according to McLellan, Hertl is still learning the ropes of the NHL — especially since his first year was cut short with a significant knee injury.

“We can’t get fooled or tricked into the fabulous start that he had,” McLellan said. “He settled in and played like a rookie last year, and he’s still at that stage. I’ve banged that drum 100 times now.

“I think Tomas is getting better as the games go on. You see him more involved.”

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