Four NHL Eastern Conference contenders that could land Hertl


The NHL Trade Deadline is coming! The NHL Trade Deadline is coming!

What does that mean for Tomas Hertl and the Sharks?

The latest reports are the Sharks are trying hard to keep their impending UFA, but there’s still a lot of belief that Hertl will choose to chase the Stanley Cup elsewhere.

In short, there’s still a lot of drama from now until the Mar. 21 trade deadline.

To that end, I explored four Eastern Conference teams that could chase Hertl – and ran through various trade proposals with local beat writers and NHL scouts/executives. I’ll look at Western Conference teams tomorrow.

Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now will speak for the Boston Bruins, George Richards of Florida Hockey Now will speak for the Florida Panthers, Vince Mercogliano of USA Today will speak for the New York Rangers, and Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now will speak for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The scouts and executive who I spoke with represent NHL organizations outside of the Sharks. They evaluate the various proposals bandied back and forth between myself and the beat writers.

Before we get into the fun, here are some “ground rules.” Let’s assume the Sharks are willing to retain up to 50 percent of Tomas Hertl’s $5.6 million dollar cap hit this year. 

These proposals will generally feature just the principals of a potential trade – other sweeteners, mid-range prospects, draft picks, or players can be added later. 

Also, Hertl probably will not sign an immediate extension, but we can guess if he consents to be traded to another organization (he has a three-team trade clause), he will seriously consider them as a long-term home before he hits free agency.

It’s also worth noting that Hertl has played a lot of wing in his career, so he’s versatile.

Boston Bruins

Sheng Peng: Would the Bruins trade Fabian Lysell and Jake DeBrusk for Tomas Hertl? Lysell, the 21st pick of the 2021 Draft, has turned heads in his first North American season. DeBrusk doesn’t want to be in Boston and gives the Sharks a middle-six cost-controlled winger to make up for some of Hertl’s lost production.

Jimmy Murphy: By all accounts, via various NHL scouts and management sources, not only have the Bruins taken rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman off the table in any trade talks, but they're very close to doing the same with Fabian Lysell. Lysell is turning heads in the WHL. With the Bruins potentially losing a similar player and proven star player in David Pastrnak to free agency after next season, they're not likely to surrender his successor unless they can extend Hertl right away.

The Bruins counter with their 2022 first-round pick, Jake DeBrusk, center Jack Studnicka, and a defenseman plenty of scouts are drooling over that isn't getting enough love from the media and fans: 21-year-old Ohio State defenseman Mason Lohrei, who had four goals and 25 assists in 31 games this season. Lohrei was drafted 58th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft.

The Sharks would love a premier prospect like Lysell, but this is a great counteroffer. We’re hearing good things about Lohrei, and Studnicka is a worthwhile reclamation project.” 

Scout: Our guys have been really impressed with Lohrei, he’s shaping up to be a real find for Boston. Top-four ceiling. We’ve heard Boston loves Lysell too, and he’s more high-end than Lohrei, but the Lysell package is actually more reasonable than the Lohrei one – there’s too much good stuff going out in that one. Just two elements in the Lysell offer. Not sure Boston does either for a potential rental though.

Executive: You factor in a middle-six winger with team control like DeBrusk. That has a lot of value. Adding Lysell is too much. I would say [Lysell] and a second or third or something like that.

Florida Panthers

Sheng Peng: Would Florida trade Spencer Knight, a 2023 1st-round pick, and Patric Hornqvist for Tomas Hertl? Knight fills an obvious need between the pipes for the Sharks, and he appears to be blocked by Bobrovsky in the coming years. Hornqvist is still a useful player, but a 1st is a reasonable cost for taking on his $5.3 million cap hit next year. That space will also help the Panthers retain Hertl.

George Richards: Going to be a hard pass, thanks. 

First, while moving Hornqvist’s money may have to happen — and would help the team at the Deadline — GM Bill Zito is not about to start tinkering with this team’s strong chemistry. And Hornqvist is at the center of that. 

Knight is also not going anywhere as Florida looks at him as their next starter. When? Two seasons, perhaps less. Knight is going to be a star goalie. They’re not giving him up for a rental, which Hertl almost certainly would be in Florida. 

The Panthers simply would not have the money to give him the new contract he wants — not with Jonathan Huberdeau due an extension this summer. 

Florida counters with a 2023 second-round pick and Grigori Denisenko. Florida needs defensive depth and will probably have to use its 2023 first-round pick to get that piece. The Panthers are loaded offensively and Hertl would be more of a luxury than a need — therefore Florida is not going to give up the farm here. And that’s not going to get it done on San Jose’s side. 

However, if rookie Anton Lundell (who got hurt Monday night) is out an extended period of time, that changes. Florida could slide in Hertl on the second or third line and be in business. If Lundell is indeed out long-term, the offer changes to a 2023 first-round pick, Owen Tippett, Denisenko (2018 first-round selection now in AHL Charlotte), and UFA Frank Vatrano. Knight and Lundell remain off the table.”

Well, you can’t blame me for inquiring about Knight.

Like you said, the Denisenko and a second package is short, but I recognize that Florida doesn’t need a lot up front. Your last offer, if it’s still available although Lundell appears to have just a day-to-day injury, is intriguing. Tippett and Denisenko are talented reclamation projects. I’d check around the league to see if there’s a better offer, but that’s not a bad one.

New York Rangers

Sheng Peng: Would the Rangers trade Nils Lundkvist, a 2022 1st, and Alexander Georgiev for Hertl and James Reimer or Adin Hill? You have to assume that Lafreniere and Kakko are untouchable in NY. Meanwhile, Lundkvist is a top prospect that looks pushed out by a stacked Rangers blueline and Georgiev is a talented goalie in dire need of a fresh start. 

Reimer and Hill are both signed for a reasonable cap hit next year, so either should prove to be a solid backup for Shesterkin. They are both signed for a shade over $2 million next year.

Vince Mercogliano: Don’t worry about adding Reimer or Hill. Next year, they absolutely need a cheap backup. They need somebody who's going to be like, a $1 million or less player. Right now they've got about 17 guys under contract, and only $10.7 million in cap space. So for the final, let's say, five or six spots on the roster, they've only got $10.7 million to work with. So you can't afford to be giving your backup goalie two and a half of that.

They have Keith Kinkaid [right now], he's a veteran. He’s been a backup in Jersey and Montreal. So I think if they traded Georgiev, they would be okay with Kinkaid as the backup.

If the Sharks were just asking for Lundkvist, a first, and Georgiev, I really think the Rangers would give that consideration. The only reason that I would pause is because of that limited cap space that I talked about next year, only having about 10.7. They would have a really difficult time re-signing Hertl.

At the beginning of the season, we always do our prospect rankings. I had [Lundkvist] ranked as the number-one prospect in the organization and I know that a lot of scouts and a lot of other people who know this stuff better than me said the same thing. 

But the Rangers are loaded with defensemen prospects. They got Braden Schneider, who they drafted in the first round last year. He's surpassed Lundkvist now. The organization values him more than Lundkvist. They have Zac Jones, who's very similar to Lundkvist, a smaller guy, but really skilled puck-mover.

I think if they could get Hertl for Kravstov and their first-round pick, that would probably be a yes. If they wanted Lundkvist instead of Kravstov, I think that would be viewed as a bigger ask. There would still be a chance because I think it's come to the point with Lundkvist where it's hard to see how he's getting in the line-up right now.

I’m not as high on Kravstov, so I’d hold out for Lundkvist. Georgiev as a no to low-cost throw-in would be fantastic, and make it even easier to trade a Reimer at the Deadline and gain an extra asset.

Executive: I don't think you're winning a championship with Ryan Strome as your second-line center. I don't know if you move a [Georgiev] like that, I don't think that makes sense. You might need him in the playoffs. Trade him later. Lundkvist and the first probably makes sense. I would just leave the goalie part out of it and that's probably fine.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Sheng Peng: Would Pittsburgh trade Samuel Poulin, P.O. Joseph, and a 2023 1st-round pick for Hertl? The Pens have a ton of UFAs this summer, so it’s a good year for them to go for it. They also get to keep their 1st-rounder this summer; the Sharks are counting on a deeper draft in 2023. Poulin’s star appears to have fallen a bit, but he’s an interesting reclamation project. Joseph doesn’t have a high ceiling but should become an NHL regular soon.

Dan Kingerski: If the Pittsburgh Penguins get a chance to negotiate a new deal [with Hertl] before the trade, it’s a slam dunk yes. If not, an easy no. Pittsburgh is bereft of scoring talent and has no top-six talent signed past this season except Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. Hertl would be an ideal second center behind Crosby, or winger if they’re able to re-sign Evgeni Malkin.

P.O. Joseph remains a polarizing prospect. Some teams and scouts love him. Others are souring on his NHL potential. A 2023 first-rounder is worth more to the Penguins than a 2022 No. 1 because their 16-year-playoff streak will be in jeopardy in 2022-23. Joseph and a 2022 first-round pick are all the Penguins have to offer.

It wouldn’t surprise if Hertl re-signed in a Pittsburgh, but I understand a maybe like that’s no comfort to the team trading for the pending UFA. But I think the Sharks can do better than Joseph and a 2022 first as the centerpieces of a trade.

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