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Was trading Tomas Hertl the right move for the Sharks?

June 5, 2024, 11:45 PM ET [10 Comments]
Ben Shelley
San Jose Sharks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT

The San Jose Sharks are entering a new era, with an anticipated Macklin Celebrini selection on the horizon, and a wave of young talent on the verge of making an impact.

But before looking fully towards the future, we take a final look back at the regular season, and more specifically, at one of the biggest pieces of news for the Sharks in an otherwise uneventful year.

Back in March, the San Jose Sharks weren’t necessarily expected to make any big splash at the trade deadline. That’s not for a lack of trying, but the team didn’t have a ton of high-end pieces on expiring deals – and those they did have, like Anthony Duclair and Kaapo Kahkonen, were never going to bring back a huge return.

However, San Jose ended up making a pretty shocking move, sending Tomas Hertl to the Vegas Golden Knights in a trade package on deadline day. In exchange, the Sharks acquired 2023 first-round pick David Edstrom, and a 2025 first-round pick.

Hertl had spend his entire career in San Jose, playing over 700 games with the team across 11 seasons. With a lot of veterans finding their way out of San Jose in recent years, Hertl had really been one of the last remaining pillars of the old core.

But especially now as the Sharks prepare to build back into a contender, moving Hertl made sense.

I’ve noted this before, but I think Mike Grier generally does have a good sense as to what direction to take the team, as well as the philosophy behind his moves. Since joining the organization, he’s managed to ship out all of Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl, shedding cap space and acquiring future assets with each move. Directionally, the decisions were sound, setting the team up for a true rebuild.

At the same time, the actual returns on some of the deals have been a little underwhelming, and the Hertl trade was no different.

In all fairness, getting a 2025 first-round pick, along with a recent first-rounder in David Edstrom, looks like a decent haul for the Sharks on a first glance. They’re two valuable future assets, and moving out an aging veteran forward while the opportunity is available makes sense.

But it wasn’t just Hertl heading to Vegas. The Sharks also needed to attach two third-round picks in the trade, and then also retained about $1.4 million of Hertl’s salary until 2030. In terms of a return, it was once again fairly underwhelming from Grier, once you factor in that Hertl was a term-controlled, reasonably-priced, second-line center.

Still, even with the minimal return, trading Hertl was the correct move for the Sharks, as they enter a new era. Heading into the coming years, the Sharks will benefit from a number of things, with the keys being cap space, future assets, and proper development for their young talent.

While the future assets weren’t significant once you factor in how much the Sharks attached, shipping out Hertl now, even if it didn’t result in a big return, leaves San Jose with some flexibility. The reality is that while Hertl is still effective, he’s likely only a few years off from a decline. With San Jose only likely to be contending once again in a few years from now, the last thing the team needs is to be stuck with Hertl on a bad contract, just as they’re in a position to compete, and their young talent is in need of bigger contracts.

That’s also not to mention that if Logan Couture is available for the coming season, all of a sudden, the Sharks are lacking available positions down the middle, with Macklin Celebrini, Will Smith, and Thomas Bordeleau to possibly account for. While it’s important to surround young talent with veteran support, those veterans on long-term deals can’t occupy roles in the lineup that you’re hoping your young talent will grow into.

The Hertl trade, more than anything, was a forward-thinking move for the Sharks. It’s one that doesn’t look great on paper, and the Sharks head into the offseason worse in the short-term for it, but it eliminates the possibility of some complications in the near future.

The Sharks' future is built around their next wave of talent, and as they enter this new era, moving Hertl was the right call.

In other news, I’m once again in the process of releasing contract projection articles for 2024 free agents at HockeyComparables.com.

All San Jose Sharks pending free agents who played at least 10 NHL games this season received a contract projection, so projections for all of the following players are now listed on the site (either on the UFA or RFA projections page): Calen Addison, Thomas Bordeleau, Ty Emberson, Luke Kunin, Jack Studnicka, Henry Thrun, Filip Zadina, Justin Bailey, Alexander Barabanov, Ryan Carpenter, Mike Hoffman, Kevin Labanc, and Jacob MacDonald.

Projection articles for the Top-50 Free Agents of the year are also being released, and projections for all other UFA and RFAs are currently available. So for those with particular interest in contract signings, feel free to take a look.

Articles will be tweeted out as they become available, via @Hockey_Comps on Twitter/X. Any follows are much appreciated!


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- What the addition of Macklin Celebrini will mean for the Sharks
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