One of the biggest surprise teams of the 2021-22 NHL season to date has been the San Jose Sharks.
The former perennial Western Conference contender has taken a couple steps backward in recent seasons due mostly to an aging roster, but the team is actually holding onto a Stanley Cup Playoff spot nearly halfway through the season. The team's resurgence can be attributed mostly to forwards Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier taking big leaps forward, in combination with veteran defensemen Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson rekindling their passion for the game.
In the case of Hertl though, the Sharks may be seeing the absolute best of him in a Sharks uniform this season before he leaves for greener pastures in the offseason. The 28 year old Hertl is a pending unrestricted free agent and, according to NHL insider Pierre LeBrun, he could be on the move ahead of the NHL's trade deadline on March 21st.
From LeBrun's most recent Insider Trading segment on TSN:
"I expect the #SJSharks to circle back around over the next month here and perhaps make an offer to Tomas Hertl, now if that does not lead to extension, you know what I'm going to say next..."
"He has almost 100% NTC, only 3 teams on his yes list, he has lots of control. One team to keep an eye on, the New York Rangers who I think have him on their list."
- Tomas Hertl
To me, Hertl would be a perfect fit on the Rangers, both in the short term and the long-term.
The big Czech center has 20 goals and 31 points in 37 games with the Sharks this season and stands to cash in big time on his next contract. No doubt that Hertl and his agent are looking at the eight year, $7.75 million per season contract handed out to Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier this past offseason. I'm not sure that the Rangers would be interested in that large of a commitment, however. If that's the case though, he could be a very valuable piece in the lead up to and the duration of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Stay tuned, Blueshirts fans.