NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Tomas Hertl could be game-changer if moved

NHL Trade Deadline Tomas Hertl Trade Rumors
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The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, March 21 at 3 p.m. ET. As we get closer to the deadline we will take a look at some individual players who could be on the move. We continue today with San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl.

The most intriguing situation as we approach the trade deadline might be Tomas Hertl and the San Jose Sharks.

San Jose is rapidly falling out of playoff contention in the Western Conference, almost certainly making them sellers. Hertl is in the final year of his contract, is a top-line player, and would be one of the biggest names available on the market and almost certainly the most significant rental. If he gets moved, he could be a game-changer for a Stanley Cup contender and make a major impact in the middle of any lineup.

That is if he gets moved.

The Sharks have said all of the right things about wanting to re-sign him, Hertl has expressed a desire to remain in San Jose, and the team is reportedly set to make an offer in the very near future. Whether the Sharks make the playoffs this season or not there is still very good reason for them to want to re-sign him. He is still only 28 years old, should have several high level years ahead of him, and he has been one of their best players for the past four years.

The question is whether or not Hertl gets a deal he likes from the Sharks, and if he sees an opportunity to win there in the coming seasons.

What the return might look like

If the Sharks decided to move him they would get a fairly significant return, even as a rental. Think first-round pick and a fairly good prospect, or a top prospect and a second-round pick.

A couple of years ago Ottawa traded Mark Stone for Erik Brannstrom (a top prospect in Vegas and a recent first-round pick), Oscar Lindberg, and a second-round pick. The Senators also traded Matt Duchene as a pending free agent for a first-round pick, a conditional first-round pick (dependent on Duchene re-signing in Columbus; he did not) and two mid-level prospects. Taylor Hall as a pending free agent was traded by New Jersey to Arizona for a first-round pick, a conditional third-round pick, and three players. A year ago, in the middle of a really down year in Buffalo, he was traded for a second-round pick and Anders Bjork. Hertl is having a significantly better season and would command much more.

Those are just some examples of comparable trades in recent years. The Sharks would probably expect something along those lines.

The most logical landing spots

• Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild Re-signing in San Jose

Re-signing with the Sharks is a very real possibility, and one that should not be discounted. It could easily happen. But in the event that it does not happen, the Bruins and Rangers are two teams to keep an eye on.

Boston has a definite need for a second-line center to play behind the Bergeron line, and the Rangers simply have a need for more scoring depth. Zibanejad, Hertl, Strome down the middle would absolutely make them a formidable opponent.

The Wild would be intriguing because they are one of the best teams in the league but are facing the very real possibility of a second-round matchup with the Colorado Avalanche to get through the Second Round. Another impact player at center could really help, as well as some extra offense.

[Related: NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Coyotes Phil Kessel trade seems inevitable]

Wild Card team: St. Louis Blues

If the Blues are going to make a major move they could probably use an upgrade on defense, or maybe some added security in net. But like the Wild, if they are going to make a deep run they are going to have a pretty daunting challenge in the Central Division with both Minnesota and Colorado looming. Ryan O'Reilly is a great top line center, but dropping Hertl onto the second line would make an already potent offense that much better.

Spot I want to see just for fun: Colorado

This is completely nonsensical, but I just like the idea of a powerhouse team going over the top and just trying to push all of its chips to the center of the table and going all in for a championship. Imagine a lineup with Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Nazem Kadri, and Hertl at forward and Cale Makar, Devon Toews, and Sam Girard on defense.

NHL Trade Deadline prediction

This is probably the “boring” result for fans outside of San Jose, but I am going to say Hertl and the Sharks get a deal done before the deadline and he stays right where he is. The Sharks are going to have to sell him on the fact they can still win in the short-term (I am not sure they will win in the short-term, but that is a different discussion for a different day) but there should be enough mutual interest to make it work long-term on a $7-9 million per year contract, which would be a fairly significant raise over his current contract that carries a $5.65 million salary cap number. They can make it work.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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    Stars aligned with new coach DeBoer, Nill-constructed roster

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    DALLAS — General manager Jim Nill sensed things were coming together for the Dallas Stars even before the season started with new coach Pete DeBoer and a roster mixed with proven veterans, up-and-coming young players, and even a teenaged center.

    At the NHL’s All-Star break, after 51 games together, these Stars are leading the Western Conference.

    “Every year you start, you put a team together, and there’s always going to be question marks,” said Nill, in his 10th season as the Stars GM. “You have ideas how you think you’re going to come together, but there’s always the unknown. . This year has been one of those years where right from the start, you could just see everything was kind of jelling.”

    The Stars (28-13-10, 66 points) have their trio of 2017 draft picks that just keep getting better: All-Star winger Jason Robertson, goaltender Jake Oettinger and defenseman Miro Heiskanen. The seemingly ageless Joe Pavelski, at 38 and already re-signed for next season, is on the high-scoring top line with Robertson and point-a-game winger Roope Hintz. Wyatt Johnston, their first-round pick in 2021 and half Pavelski’s age, has 13 goals.

    There is also the resurgence of six-time All-Star forward Tyler Seguin two years after hip surgery and 33-year-old captain Jamie Benn, who already has more goals (19) than he did playing all 82 games last season.

    The Stars have a plus-40 goal differential, which is second-best in the NHL. They are averaging 3.37 goals per game, more than a half-goal better than last season when they were the only team to make the playoffs after being outscored in the regular season. They are also allowing fewer goals, and have improved on power plays and penalty kills.

    “Where we sit at this break, I think guys are happy with that,” Seguin said, before being asked the keys to the Stars leading the West and on pace for a 100-point season with their new coach.

    “Our style, our team speed, our puck speed, being predictable. All the clichés, knowing where the puck’s going. Really how we play the five-man unit,” he said. “Our pace this year, it’s been a lot quicker. There’s been some solid depth scoring this year while we’ve got one of the best lines in hockey.”

    The Stars went into the break on their only three-game losing streak of the season, all 3-2 overtime losses at home.

    “Those aren’t real losses,” said DeBoer, who twice has gone to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with a new team. “I’m happy where we’re at. I like how we’re playing.”

    Plus, Dallas won’t have to worry in the playoffs about 3-on-3 hockey, which has been the only real stain on their season so far. Only one team has more than its 10 losses after regulation.

    “We’ve played a lot of good hockey. We’ve made a lot of good strides in our game,” DeBoer said. “We still have another level we have to get to when we get back, but there are a lot of good things that have happened. They’ve worked to have us where we are right now in the standings. Good spot to be in.”

    The Stars have 31 games left in the regular season. The first four after the break at home, like the last four before their week-long hiatus.

    Robertson’s 33 goals rank sixth in the NHL, and the 23-year-old has the same number of assists while averaging 1.29 points a game even after he missed most of training camp before signing a four-year, $31 million contract. Pavelski has 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) while playing every game, and Hintz 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in only 43 games.

    Oettinger, who is 21-7 in regulation, has a .923 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average since signing his three-year, $12 million contract. That deal came after 223 saves in a seven-game playoff series against Calgary last May, capped by 64 in the series finale that went to overtime.

    Nill said Robertson’s production has improved even with the league adjusting to the high-scoring forward, and that Oettinger is proving to be one of the league’s best goalies. But they are just part of what has been a tremendous team effort.

    “They kind of had that mojo right from the start, and it was kind of this team’s got the right mix,” Nill said. “It’s come together well, and it’s shown in the standings. It’s been good to watch.”

    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.