Four NHL Western Conference contenders that could land Hertl

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If the Sharks trade Tomas Hertl, he’s going to fetch a lot.

Yesterday, we spoke with beat writers for the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, and Pittsburgh Penguins, along with an NHL scout and an executive, to get a sense of what these Eastern Conference contenders might offer the Sharks for Hertl’s services.

Today, we’ll explore what Western Conference contenders like the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, and St. Louis Blues could trade for Hertl.

Steve Macfarlane of Calgary Hockey Now will speak for the Flames, Tony Abbott of 10K Rinks will speak for the Wild, and an NHL executive will speak for the Blues and the Avalanche.

An NHL executive and scouts from outside the Sharks organization then offer their opinions about the various proposals.

Like we did yesterday, let’s set 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.

Calgary Flames

Sheng Peng: Would the Flames trade Matthew Coronato, Dustin Wolf, and Sean Monahan to the Sharks for Hertl?

The Flames sent their 2022 1st for Tyler Toffoli, which might’ve taken them out of the Hertl derby, but the Sharks absorbing Sean Monahan and his $6.375 cap hit next year is going to help with re-signing Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and giving Hertl a legitimate offer in the off-season. 

One of Calgary’s top prospects is the cost of taking on Monahan. Coronato has impressed at Harvard and Wolf would fill a huge organizational need between the pipes. Jacob Markstrom appears to be blocking Wolf anyway.

Steve Macfarlane: The idea of adding an elite center AND dumping Sean Monahan's hefty salary cap hit for next year makes this pitch very tempting. 

It's easy to imagine the Flames making a deal like this to allow them flexibility with their impending free agents, but if there is a downside, it's the risk that this could be a pure rental and there might not be enough left in the bank to fit Hertl in next year. 

Assuming they use the Monahan cap savings to re-sign Gaudreau and lock in extensions for RFAs Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington, there's not much left for Hertl.

Calgary counters with Matthew Coronato, Matthew Phillips, and Sean Monahan for Hertl.

It's still a very steep price from a prospect perspective, but the Flames haven't given Phillips a shot in the NHL yet despite very strong play at the AHL level and may prefer to let him go during a strong professional season to hang on to Wolf and see if he continues to develop into a potential NHL star. 

I’m not sure that Phillips is much better than a very good AHL player. Coronato isn’t enough for basically Hertl and Monahan’s contract. So the Sharks will pass, unless you have another prospect to offer in Phillips’s stead.

Colorado Avalanche

Sheng Peng: Would Colorado trade Oskar Olausson, Justin Barron, and a 2023 first-round pick for Hertl?

Colorado doesn’t need Hertl: Nazem Kadri is currently Colorado’s second-line center and having a dynamite year, but long-term, Hertl is younger and more reliable than the mercurial Kadri. So the Avs load up for this run, keep their prime prospects in Alex Newhook and Bowen Byram, let Kadri walk in the summer, and could have a MacKinnon-Hertl one-two punch in the years to come.

Executive: I don't know if it makes sense for them with Hertl at all. They don't have to make that move. 

They have MacKinnon. They have Kadri. They bring him in, then he's playing the wing, which is great, but they're going to pay an arm and a leg for something that they really don't need.

You're okay with that [trade] value. I just don't see the fit.

Minnesota Wild

Sheng Peng: I actually have three offers -- that's how deep that Minnesota is in prospects: Marco Rossi, a second-round pick, and Dmitry Kulikov for Hertl?

Or Jesper Wallstedt, a second-round pick, and Kulikov?

Or Carson Lambos, a first-round pick, and Kulikov?

The Wild's farm system is an embarrassment of riches and they appear to have an acute need for a top center. They're also a borderline Cup contender without Hertl. So with Hertl? It's a perfect match, right? 

The problem is, they'll be challenged to re-sign Hertl, given that the Parise/Suter buyout penalties are going to be particularly ugly over the next three years. It'll be over $12 million combined for each of the next three years.

So Hertl might just be a pure rental, which the Wild aren't close enough to the Cup to be able to afford. But if Bill Guerin wants to scratch that itch, maybe taking Kulikov's $2.25 million next year will help with bringing Hertl back.

Rossi is one of the best prospects in the game; this top prospect plus a second package might resemble what Mark Stone commanded a couple Trade Deadlines ago. Goaltender Wallstedt would fill an immediate organizational need for San Jose. Lambos is an excellent prospect in his own right and would be a lot of teams' top prospect.

Tony Abbott: Hertl is a fantastic player who would certainly help the suddenly-slumping Wild not only right the ship, but go toe-to-toe with the Colorados, Calgarys, and Vegas’ of the West. 

That said, I can’t imagine Rossi or Wallstedt are going to move for Hertl or any rental. The Wild view both these prospects as potential franchise-changers, and the public scouting industry generally agrees. Minnesota’s centers are Joel Eriksson Ek and duct tape, while the Wild could easily have a Jones/Dell-type situation in net [with Talbot/Kahkonen] in the near future.

Add this to their cap situation, and it’s not happening. The team is going to have over $42 million of dead cap space spread out over three years thanks to the Parise/Suter buyouts. Forget signing Tomas Hertl, the Wild have to be lucky and hit on Rossi, Wallstedt, Matt Boldy, and more in order to field a competitive team over that time. 

To put it another way: Those guys didn’t move for five years of Jack Eichel. Two months of Hertl ain’t doing it.

That said, you do have to give to get, so I think Lambos + a first is probably a package Minnesota could afford to part with while also out-bidding other teams. Lambos would probably be the top prospect in at least a few teams’ systems. He’s got mobility and an offensive touch, flirting with a point-per-game in the WHL at age-19. 

If GM Sheng Peng was dealing with GM Tony Abbott, this might get done — maybe with light conditions on the pick. Hertl would be a difference maker in Minnesota, the Wild likely won’t get a better shot at the Cup these next four years, and they could probably trade Kevin Fiala in the off-season to recoup assets.

This is what I’d counter with: Hertl and James Reimer for Carson Lambos, an unprotected 2022 first, and Cam Talbot.

Let’s start with my, dare I say, perfect and wise offer. You know what makes me a lot less hesitant to give up high-end assets for a rental? Solving my goalie problems. I’m not sure how much I trust Reimer in the playoffs, but it’s a thin goalie market, and any port in a storm, right? 

Assuming Reimer’s healthy soon, I’d trust him a lot more than Talbot, who’s hitting his decline phase hard. I’m also not disappointed to know that he’s cheaper than Talbot next year. 

This is roughly what I’d think GM Bill Guerin would offer though: Adam Beckman, 2022 second-round pick (elevates to first if Minnesota reaches Western Conference Finals).

Sadly for Sharks fans, I think you’re going to get a not-nearly-as-good offer, which could include the shoot-first Beckman, the speedy Russian center Marat Khusnutdinov, or BC breakout kid Jack McBain’s rights, depending on who strikes your fancy. 

If that sounds like a bad Hockey’s Future prospect-hugging fan post, you’re right. Minnesota’s in full prospect-hugging mode right now, and I think other teams are going to outbid Guerin without much effort.

Hey Bill, can I talk to Tony again? 

You’re right, Tony, Beckman isn’t going to be the centerpiece of anything that might bring Hertl to Minnesota.

But I’d take the Lambos, first-rounder, and Talbot offer. Obviously, I’d rather not take on Talbot’s $3.67 million next year, but if that’s what it takes to secure Lambos, I can stomach it for Reimer. It’s the last year of Talbot’s contract, the Sharks can handle that and hope for a bounce-back season.

Scout: I don’t see Hertl in Minnesota. They simply can’t afford to keep him after this year. And I don’t see them trading a lot for a rental.

Executive: I hear Rossi has done very well in the AHL.

I would be shocked if they move him. It's kind of untouchable territory.

I've heard they're pretty high on Lambos too. He’s also close to untouchable. Whether that’s true or not, I’m not sure.

They’ll be in the market for something though.

They'll probably be more into trading picks. They’ll need [their current prospects] in their line-up next year [because of their cap situation].

St. Louis Blues

Sheng Peng: Would St. Louis trade Zachary Bolduc and a first-round pick for Hertl?

Bolduc is the Blues’ 2021 first-round pick and has enjoyed a strong season in the Q. He’s an offensively-gifted winger.

But St. Louis is loaded up front, so Hertl would be a luxury for them.

Executive: It makes some sense because he's a big, heavy guy that plays to their system

I think your value, like a first-round pick and a very good prospect or two B prospects are right around the right value.

I don’t see them re-signing Hertl though. So don’t know if they’d offer much.

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