SAN JOSE – Tomas Hertl has scored some pretty impressive goals during his 2018-2019 campaign.
He danced through the Anaheim Ducks defense on opening night, and capped off a hat-trick with an OT-winner against the Washington Capitals in January. But, his marker against the Montreal Canadiens earlier this month was extra special.
It marked the first time in his career he scored 30 goals in a single season.
“I’m pretty excited about it because I’ve been more of a passer than a shooter, but lately the goals have been coming,” Hertl said with his signature grin back on March 7, when he reached the milestone in front of the Sharks' home crowd at SAP Center. “Some lucky ones. But sure it’s a good season for me and I’m happy for that.”
While Hertl was already an established member of San Jose's offensive arsenal before this season started, he's taken his game to another level and stayed healthy. The 25-year-old also successfully moved to the center position halfway through the season, where he has evolved into a point-per-game player.
In 66 games, the Czech native has registered a career-high 66 points (31 goals, 32 assists) and a plus-10 rating. NBC Sports California analyst Jamie Baker thinks the career year is a credit to Hertl's hockey IQ.
"He doesn't just make great moves with the stick," the 10-year NHL veteran said in the first entry of his "Baker's Breakdown" video series. "It's identifying the situation on the ice, using his hockey sense."
Baker also pointed out that Hertl has used his smarts to his advantage at even strength, and on the power play. As a result, the 25-year-old is the only Shark this season to score at least 10 goals on the power play and at even strength.
In other words, Hertl is growing into the dominant player the Sharks envisioned when they drafted him in the first round in 2012. With San Jose pushing for the Western Conference's top seed, it couldn't come at a better time.