The San Jose Sharks will be an interesting team to watch this coming season. They’ve publicly said they’re not looking to rebuild as much as they’re looking to retool and, while they’ve lost a key veteran in Joe Thornton, the franchise is eager to remain competitive and try to make the playoffs in 2020-21. Easier said than done.
Should the Sharks not be successful in their endeavor to remain competitive, what they do when they realize they’re out of the running is what becomes the interesting part. According to The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz, if the Sharks aren’t playoff contenders, it’s possible they could deal some of their players at the trade deadline. A key question to ask should the offloading begin, is if Tomas Hertl will be among the jettisoned players?
Kurz doesn’t believe so. He writes:
“I don’t see them under any circumstances moving Hertl, who was named as an alternate captain last season and is viewed as someone who can help lead the team on and off the ice.”
Noting Hertl, 27, has spent his entire seven-year NHL career in San Jose, he offers the Sharks roster a great deal if he stays healthy. He’s consistent offensively, he’s a leader, he’s not a free agent until 2022, and while he would have value around the NHL if made available in trade, the Sharks don’t want to lose him.
Hertl knows this team can improve. It sounds like he wants to be part of that improvement and for himself to personally come back strong from an injury. “The team for sure has to be more together and just play like one team,” he said. Showing his leadership skills, he added:
Everybody now on the team has contracts and nobody has to care about anything (like that). We just have to come and play hockey and take care of wins and nothing else has to matter. We’ve got a lot of skilled players, good players. But we have to just all get on the bus.
If Not Hertl, Who Will Be Moved?
If Hertl is safe, and if the Sharks struggle, who is first on the list of possible trade candidates out of San Jose? Alongside Hertl, it’s not likely the team will be eager to move players like Logan Couture or Evander Kane — both of whom have modified no-trade clauses. In the same way, Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic aren’t going anywhere unless they ask.
Kurz notes that pending unrestricted free agents like Devan Dubnyk, Stefan Noesen, Matt Nieto, Marcus Sorensen or Patrick Marleau would be the first names the team would look at.
San Jose missed the playoffs for the first time since 2015 last season and Hertl admits most people aren’t giving them a chance this season either. That said, he thinks the Sharks can be good with the guys they have on the current roster. Like any team in the NHL, the Sharks are going to do everything they can to avoid being on the outside of the playoff picture and looking in.
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