Sharks lose Hertl for season, get push to be trade deadline sellers

The San Jose Sharks received awful news on Thursday, as Tomas Hertl is out for the season. If there’s any silver lining that comes from this … well, it comes down to how the Sharks process things.

Let’s get to Hertl’s unfortunate news first, though.

Highs and lows for Hertl

Hertl raised his profile during the 2020 NHL All-Star weekend. Donning the Justin Bieber mask ranked as the highlight, but Hertl also put in MVP-worthy performances during the games proper.

Considering how disappointing the Sharks’ season has been, it was tempting to paint Hertl’s All-Star weekend as an oasis in a hockey desert. This development only makes that comparison more pertinent, and unfortunate.

The Sharks announced that Hertl suffered a torn MCL and ACL. Not surprisingly, the injury sidelines Hertl for the “remainder of the season.” It will be interesting to see how it all affects his 2020-21 campaign, too.

NBC Sports California’s Brodie Brazil shared the moment of injury from Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to the Ducks:

Losing Hertl should drive point home: Sharks need to sell

Speaking of losses, the Sharks have dropped four of five to slip to 22-26-4. Even amid a weak field, that’s pretty bleak.

In all honesty, there really is a silver lining in what is otherwise undeniably bad news. With Logan Couture also out and the Sharks nine points out of the West’s second wild-card spot, GM Doug Wilson has little room for delusional thoughts. The Sharks should be trade deadline sellers.

Now, it’s still fair to ask: “To what extent?”

Some of that will come down to serious soul-searching, both from the team and its players.

Patrick Marleau lacks a no-trade or no-movement clause. Would the state of this team prompt him to want a trade? If not, would the Sharks risk the PR hit by moving him anyway?

On the other hand, Joe Thornton has an NMC, so it would be his call. In the latest edition of “31 Thoughts,” Elliotte Friedman mentioned that Thornton opened the door to trade talks, yet Friedman guessed that the Sharks would only consider it if Jumbo Joe made the request. Could this bad break change things?

Look, loyalty is great, but Thornton is 40, and frankly must be eager to win that elusive Stanley Cup. The Sharks risk being overly sentimental here, and Wilson’s profited from pulling off the Band-Aid before. The Sharks traded away Douglas Murray and Ryane Clowe during the 2013 deadline, netting nice picks for players who quickly faded — and the Sharks made the playoffs anyway.

Making the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs is a far-flung dream, but this team is locked down with big contracts and a short-term focus (for better or worse). So, a similar logic could apply: by trading Marleau and/or Thornton, the Sharks can ease some of the agony of seeing the Senators luxuriate with their 2020 first-rounder.

(Ouch, though.)

Signs point to less prominent players like Brenden Dillon being moved anyway, but in what could be a weak trade market, the Sharks could yield nice returns for players who aren’t part of the longer term solution. Maybe a hurt Hertl pushes them to that next level of aggressive selling?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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