Joe Will is working with Tomas Hertl’s agent Craig Oster to keep the impending UFA with the San Jose Sharks.
“The one thing we have in common is that Tomas loves being a Shark, and we love having Tomas here,” the acting San Jose Sharks general manager said today. “So now, it’s finding a way to have that happen.”
Of course, there’s a lot of space, in terms of dollars and years, between Tomas Hertl wanting to stay and actually staying.
“We’re going to do everything we can to try and make that happen. It’s challenging in an environment where there’s a flat salary cap,” Will said in a extensive media availability today that covered topics like Hertl, Evander Kane’s grievance, Doug Wilson’s health, Nikolai Knyzhov’s injury, and William Eklund’s potential return. “And that just makes it a little bit more complex in how you get to the end result. Tomas is a big part of our team. We’d like to keep him.”
It doesn’t sound like Will has actually offered a contract to Hertl yet.
“We’re kind of in the parameters discussing things,” he shared. “We’re going to narrow that into more specific negotiations.”
But considering we weren’t even sure that Tomas Hertl wanted to stay with a San Jose Sharks organization in a “reset”, it’s big news that the popular centerman wants to keep it going in teal long-term.
“I certainly believe so,” Will said. “He’s always loved it here and is a big part of our leadership and a big producer here.”
It says something that even publicly, five weeks away from the Trade Deadline, that Will wouldn’t even entertain the idea of trading Hertl: “Don’t have any interest in doing anything outside of just working on the negotiation and signing him.”
So how much will the successful termination of Evander Kane’s contract play into what the San Jose Sharks can offer Hertl?
Per Puckpedia, the San Jose Sharks have about $22 million dollars of cap space this off-season. That will need to pay for roughly five forwards and three defensemen, possibly including UFAs Hertl, Alexander Barabanov, and Andrew Cogliano, and RFAs Jonathan Dahlen and Jake Middleton.
But that isn’t including Kane’s $7 million dollar cap hit, in limbo because the NHLPA is grieving San Jose’s termination of the winger’s contract.
“I’m not counting on anything to happen within that,” Will said on how the Kane termination affects the Hertl offer, “to move on something else.”
Translation: So no Kane — or pain — for San Jose’s salary cap, the Sharks want to keep Hertl.
Will, however, couldn’t offer a date yet for when the NHLPA’s grievance against the Sharks will be heard, which is in line with what San Jose Hockey Now reported last week. It doesn’t sound like soon.
“I can’t comment as long as we’re in this grievance situation,” Will said, when asked about the events that precipitated the Sharks’ termination of Kane’s contract. “We made the decision to terminate the contract for valid reasons, we vetted it through the league.”
Those are some franchise-altering decisions, terminating Kane, re-signing Hertl. It begs the question: Who’s running the ship?
In late November, San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson went on medical leave and ceded day-to-day control of hockey operations to assistant general manager Will. Today, Will cited the franchise’s “collaborative” decision-making structure, which includes assistant general manager Tim Burke, director of scouting Doug Wilson Jr., head coach Bob Boughner, and Wilson himself.
“Doug’s in there, and all the way up through through management and ownership,” Wilson said. “So Doug’s aware of things, not really in a day-to-day type of managerial way, but in big decisions, again, he was proactive with a lot of things. So a lot of things are plans in place that we already had before he went on his leave.”
Will didn’t want to disclose much about Wilson’s health, just saying that they talked yesterday and will talk today, and that Wilson was “doing fine.” Will didn’t offer a timeline for Wilson’s return to day-to-day management.
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