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San Jose Sharks: Put Tomas Hertl In The Top Six

August 17, 2015, 8:19 PM ET [16 Comments]
Tim Chiasson
San Jose Sharks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The obvious start question for this is what role will he be given from Peter DeBoer but let’s assume, for arguments sake, that DeBoer is wise to Hertl’s talents. Let’s assume that he’s not going to let him rot in the bottom six – which he’s clearly outgrown.

For whatever reason, Todd McLellan felt it necessary to punish Tomas Hertl by bouncing him from line to line while some of his other teammates were given more consistency. Perhaps it was for depth, but I don’t buy that explanation. I don’t buy it because the San Jose Sharks just didn’t have the depth to make it work – and I think that having Hertl bounce from line to line hurt not only Tomas Hertl’s point totals, but the offense in general of the Sharks.

Hertl has the talent to play in the top six as a winger – and he has the ability to be a part of a very good supporting cast with either Joe Thornton or Logan Couture.

Hertl was fourth on the team in CF% (53.92) last year of players who played at least 400 5v5 minutes. Only Thornton, Pavelski and their little buddy Melker finished above him. Hertl’s WOWY numbers are crazy for 2014-2015. When you separate his linemates there are only two people that had a higher CF% without Tomas Hertl than with him (Pavelski/Mueller), which means that he gels with nearly every player.

When comparing Hertl away and teammate away, only two players had a higher teammate away CF% (Thornton/Pavelski) – so Hertl isn’t being carried by anyone. He’s just a good possession player. This past season he played 37.9% of his 5v5 minutes with Joe Thornton. In 2013-2014 he played 80.5% of his 5v5 with Joe Thornton. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out part of the reason why his point totals were underwhelming this year.

He went from a 6.14 relative zone start percentage in 2013-2014 to a -1.62 in 2014-2015. Take in his linemates and add the tougher assignments and he was essentially turned into a third line player at the expense of his offensive gifts while he watched Melker Karlsson hang off of the Joe’s and Tommy Wingels/Matt Nieto see more time with Logan Couture on the second line.

If Hertl can find a home on either Thornton or Couture’s wing this year then there is reason to expect him to put up much better offensive numbers. I’d even be more inclined to send him riding along with Logan Couture to try and fix the possession mess that line created last year.

The Sharks offensive group made minimal changes and it would be disappointing to see the lesser Joel Ward come into a top six role over the qualified Tomas Hertl – especially when Hertl has the potential to increase the general play value of the Couture line which struggled mightily to get the job done to a high standard.

Tomas Hertl deserves a bigger, consistent, role in the San Jose Sharks organization to maximize the value that the team gets out of their 2012 first round pick. You don’t draft a player 17th overall with the intentions on watching him succeed in the top six his rookie year only to turn around and play him like a ping pong ball during his second. Play him in the top six and find out his true value. If he succeeds, great. If he doesn’t? Well, he can go back to being a very, very good third line player they can build a bottom six around. There’s nothing wrong with him being a third line player, because he’s a very good one, but there is a problem when he could be more and is potentially being held back.

Thanks for reading.
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