Tomas Hertl's eligibility for unrestricted free agent status in July made the 28-year-old San Jose Sharks center the subject of trade chatter last summer. That talk faded until a recent report of contract talks between Hertl's agent and Sharks management restarted the conjecture about his future in San Jose.
Last Thursday, San Jose Hockey Now's Sheng Peng reported acting Sharks GM Joe Will said Hertl loves being a Shark and they hope to keep him. Peng indicated Hertl wants to stay long-term but sorting out the cap space will depend on the outcome of Evander Kane's contract termination grievance for which a hearing date has yet to be determined.
Two days later, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported Hertl told reporters he wants a fair contract and term was important to him. Peng speculated it could cost over $7 million per season on an eight-year deal to retain him.
Hertl could be shopped before the March 21 trade deadline if he and the Sharks fail to reach an agreement on an extension. TSN has him sitting sixth on their latest trade bait list. His versatility and two-way play will be attractive to playoff contenders. Cap Friendly indicates he carries a three-team trade list but perhaps the Sharks can persuade him to broaden it.
The New York Rangers could look at Hertl to bolster their scoring at right wing. Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins have lacked a reliable second-line center since David Krejci's departure last summer.
If Hertl prefers staying in the Western Conference perhaps the Minnesota Wild will make a pitch to shore up their depth at center. Maybe the Colorado Avalanche make a pitch if they can find a way to make the cap dollars work.