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Sheng on Hertl’s Leadership, Latest on Barabanov & Middleton



Check out my “Sharks Pregame Live” hit!

Sheng Peng: Yesterday, we talked with Noah Gregor after the San Jose Sharks’ loss in Los Angeles.

This was not the most pleasant conversation: The Sharks had just been shut out, this was Gregor’s first game back after a couple healthy scratches, and Bob Boughner had just criticized his practice habits.

To the 23-year-old’s credit, he handled our questions professionally, beautifully, but stoic.

His entire demeanor changed, however, when we asked about the Sharks re-signing Tomas Hertl to an eight-year contract. Gregor absolutely lit up, talking about the energy that Tommy brings to the room, what Hertl means to the Sharks’ young players.

Bob talked about this today too, how welcoming Tommy is to everybody in the locker room. He also cited Hertl’s passion as something that he’d want all his young players to emulate.

Tomas Hertl is the type of player that you want, on and off the ice, to be leading the young Sharks back to prominence.

I think about the last Trade Deadline, there was some talk that the Sharks should trade Hertl then. They could’ve got a lot more then, because the team that acquired Hertl would’ve got two playoff runs out of Tommy before he hit free agency.

But talking to people with the Sharks then, they told me that they see Hertl as a culture-setter, a leader, in the vein of Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, and Logan Couture.

So this is what the San Jose Sharks are paying for too, not just the 30 goals a year. This is a big part of why they’ve committed eight years to Tommy.

Anyway, Tomas Hertl can sleep easy now, but it’s going to be a stressful couple days for Jake Middleton and Alexander Barabanov, who are both subject to trade rumors.

Let’s start with Jake: Pierre LeBrun reported that the Sharks were seeking a second-round pick and a good prospect/pick for Middleton.

This mirrors what the Anaheim Ducks got for Josh Manson from the Avs.

Speaking to my league sources though, that’s not going to happen.

Make no mistake, people like Middleton’s game. But league-wide, I don’t think he’s seen as a top-four defender on a Cup contender like a Manson is or a Ben Chiarot, who just went for a first-rounder to Florida.

Middleton is seen as a very good bottom-pairing defenseman on a top team.

So a second-round pick OR a good prospect? The San Jose Sharks could get one of them for Middleton, but not both.

As for Alexander Barabanov, it’s a bit of a holding pattern for the pending UFA.

There was some thought that after Hertl’s contract got wrapped up, Barabanov would be next.

My understanding is, however, that there are no talks between the San Jose Sharks and Barabanov as of now.

It doesn’t mean there won’t be or that he’s going to get traded.

But I think it’s telling: They didn’t negotiate with both Hertl and Barabanov at the same time when they could have, and now Hertl’s done, they still haven’t moved on to Barabanov.

It tells you something about the San Jose Sharks’ priorities heading into the Trade Deadline.


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