The San Jose Sharks have been together for years, but Tomáš Hertl and Timo Meier parted ways this NHL season. According to hockey analyst Jack Han, the club did well to keep the Czech center from the star duo.
Hertl entered this past regular season with a new eight-year contract worth $8.14 million.
The Swiss Meier played it out with an expiring contract and did not negotiate an extension of cooperation with the bosses. Before the March transfer deadline, he headed to New Jersey in an extensive trade that included a total of eight players and draft picks. Now he is fighting in the second round of the playoffs against Carolina.
“The Sharks made the right decision to sign Hertl to a long-term deal because he should age relatively well as a player, better than Meier in my opinion,” said analyst Han, who previously did the job with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Meier sees hockey more as an up-down game and is more dependent on his speed, there are not as many nuances,” he added. “That’s why I think trading Meier was a good decision.
Before leaving for New Jersey, the 26-year-old winger played 57 games in the season for San Jose and collected 52 points (31+21).
Hertl, three years older, scored 63 times (22+41) in 79 duels, 11 points short of his peak. San Jose was among the worst teams in the league, finishing fourth from bottom.
“It was probably the hardest year I’ve been here, even if it must sound a bit like a cliché,” Hertl commented on the unsuccessful regular season. “Missing the playoffs four straight times is tough. You miss it. I want to play it again as soon as possible because it’s the most fun part of the season.”
At the same time, the Czech center spared no self-criticism. “I know I have to be better. I would say that this season I had too many fluctuations,” he pointed out.
While in November, December and March he scored six goals each time, in the other months he was always on one goal.
And what to work on? “Everything is faster than before. You’re always trying to get in the best shape possible, lose a few kilos, that’s good. It’s a lot about skating and being fast,” he recounted.
“So yes, I’ll try to do my best and improve, get a little faster. And I think I should work on my shot too,” he added. He was 12 goals short of his NHL scoring record this year.
He also collected 36 negative points in the +/- rating, only three hockey players and only one forward – Jordan Kyrou from St. Louis. In order for Hertl to live up to Han’s predictions, he would have to improve. After all, with an average salary of 8.14 million, he is the team’s highest-paid forward.
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