The previous season proved to be a turbulent ride for San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl. On certain evenings, the forward displayed exceptional performance, while on others, Hertl seemed to be overmatched and overwhelmed. This season, Hertl scored 22 goals and 41 assists for 63 points, which ranked 41st in points among centers in the NHL.
Despite another 60-point season, Hertl encountered greater difficulties putting the puck into the back of the opponent’s net. Hertl’s goals for per 60 minutes (GF/60) was around league average, but his expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60) was above league average. Those stats backed up exactly what people saw on the ice. The opportunities to score existed, but Hertl wasn’t able to convert on them.
On the other end of the spectrum, the 29-year-old Czech forward began the season with an extraordinary opportunity. Hertl, alongside fellow Czech defenseman Radim Simek, had the privilege of competing in Prague as part of the NHL Global Series. “It was a little crazy, but it was just a special moment to score in front of my whole family and a lot of friends that probably used to see me when I was playing in Prague,” said Hertl in an interview with NHL.com.
Where Does Hertl Fit?
Hertl will slot in as the Sharks’ No. 1 center coming into this season as long as he stays healthy. The biggest challenge for the forward will be his consistency. “I know I have to be better, too. This season, I think it’s just too much up and down, and if I want to be a top player in the league, you have to be consistent every night. Like every eight, ten games, you can take maybe one night off, but it’s just too much up and down,” said Hertl in his April exit interview.
Additionally, Hertl will need to establish chemistry with a new set of wingers. Following the trade of forward Timo Meier, Hertl found himself centering a line with a rotating cast of forwards, including Jacob Peterson, Martin Kaut, and a brief stint by William Eklund. Between Peterson, Eklund, and the offseason additions by Sharks General Manager Mike Grier, Hertl should be able to bounce back to his 2021-22 form.
Hertl is entering the second season of an eight-year deal that will pay him around $8.1 million per season, according to CapFriendly. He currently has a no-move clause in his contract, though it is unlikely that the Sharks or Hertl would ask for a trade. Hertl has proven that a quality center, anchoring the Sharks’ forward core. If his game stays at a high level for the next several years, along with prospects such as Will Smith, Quentin Musty, and Shakir Mukhamadullin developing as expected, San Jose should be in a prime position to bounce back into the playoffs within the next four years.
Bold Prediction: Tomas Hertl finishes the season with a career-high 37 goals and a total of 61 points.