Hertl could be 'big name' at deadline if Sharks out of it

Tomas Hertl

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has had "several" conversations with Tomas Hertl's agent this offseason, but apparently, they've never come close to a deal.

Hertl, 27, spoke with the media following Sharks practice Wednesday and said that although Wilson and his agent have been in contact throughout the summer, no specific contract terms have been exchanged. And with the regular-season opener less than two weeks away, he indicated his contract status presently is not front of mind.

"I want to just be ready for the start of the season, especially the first month," Hertl said. "Just get through it and after we can talk. I don't even think about it, all of the rumors. I'm just getting for October 16 against Winnipeg and just be the best player I can for my team."

Hertl, of course, is entering the final year of his contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end. There's no question that the Sharks would prefer to re-sign him, but that could prove challenging given the other bloated contracts on San Jose's payroll. Consequently, if the Sharks are out of the playoff race at the trade deadline, The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun believes Hertl could be moved.

"If the Sharks are out of playoff contention closer to the March 21 trade deadline, they will have little choice but to listen to trade offers given the potential return," LeBrun wrote. "However, San Jose has not lost hope in trying to extend Hertl and my sense is teams that have inquired this offseason were told that the Sharks were focused on signing him this season if possible. But at this juncture, I get the sense Hertl isn’t likely to sign. These things can change, but if they don’t, we’re looking at a pretty big name potentially available come the trade deadline."

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If the Sharks are still in contention for a playoff spot near the trade deadline, Hertl almost certainly will have played a major role in that, which would simultaneously increase his trade value and make the Sharks less inclined to trade him. But on the other hand, if it's clear San Jose will miss out on the playoffs for a franchise-record third straight season, Wilson might have no choice but to get what he can for Hertl, for fear of losing him for nothing.