Tomas Hertl’s parents are asking. So’s his wife. He also sees the tweets from fans.
But the impending UFA doesn’t know if he’s staying with the San Jose Sharks yet.
“We just want, for both sides, to be fair,” Hertl said.
Fair for Hertl would be being paid like one of the best centers in the NHL.
“I did a pretty good job the last couple of years proving I can be a top centerman in the league,” he noted.
There’s no doubt about that: Since 2018-19, just 13 centers around the league have recorded more goals than Hertl’s 92. Among Sharks forwards, only captain Logan Couture has played more minutes at even strength and on special teams.
30-goal centers who are reliable at both ends of the ice don’t grow on trees.
The going market rate, as I explored yesterday, is the maximum eight-year contract, above $7 million dollars per season.
“It’s always nice to get years because you work hard for this moment,” Hertl pointed out. “It’s not often you get to this point, maybe once or twice, and you just want to get what you deserve.”
Are the San Jose Sharks, in “reset” mode as an organization, ready to give Tomas Hertl what he deserves?
And just as important, is Hertl ready to commit perhaps the best years of his career to a team that’s missed the playoffs the last two seasons and is just on the fringe of the post-season race this year?
“This year, it’s for sure better. We’re still on the edge, but we got a pretty good chance to get to the playoffs,” he offered. “It’s way more fun.
“We got some young guys coming up. We saw early in the season, Eklund and what he can do. For sure, the future is brighter for the Sharks.”
But Hertl is also well aware how hard it is to win the Stanley Cup — past teammates have taught him that much.
“To win the Cup is something special. It’s not easy to get. Some guys get lucky, they win it first year,” Hertl acknowledged. “But you look at guys like Patty, Pav, and Jumbo, some of the best players in the league, but they never get a chance to win it.
“You try to do all the best and hunt the Cup too, lift it and bring it home. But it’s really hard and sometimes you have to be lucky. Sometimes, you can get to a different team and it’ll work out there.”
So does Tomas Hertl think the San Jose Sharks can win a Stanley Cup soon?
That’s a good question that Hertl might answer soon with his decision.
Suffice to say, there’s a lot on Hertl’s mind right now. Not that you could tell on the ice, what with his team-leading 22 goals.
“I’ve always wanted to stay,” Hertl mused. “It’s great when you play for one team in your whole career and you can say I was like with the Sharks forever. Not many guys in the NHL just stay with [one] organization and give the fans, the city everything.”
But then he added: “Some guys say sometimes it’s nice to get with other teams. You switch it up, you can even get better, get new things.
“You’re always thinking both sides.”
So despite acting GM Joe Will’s optimism — Will said on Thursday, “The one thing we have in common is that Tomas loves being a Shark, and we love having Tomas here” — the free agent-to-be wouldn’t flat-out say that he was staying.
“I’m not like saying anything 100 percent because nothing is ever 100 percent. I just say this is my team now when I’m playing and I’m doing all I can,” he offered. “We’ll see what happens in four weeks or the rest of the year. I want to just focus on playing.”
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