For a number of years now, certain Calgary Flames fans have thought that the team should shake up their core due to a lack of playoff success. That crowd has grown exponentially in recent months as a result of the team missing the playoffs entirely in 2020-21.
It seems obvious to most that this team doesn’t have the right mix of players to do much damage. Sure, they may get into the playoffs this upcoming season due to being in a weak Pacific Division, but the chances of them doing anything once getting there is slim to none based on their previous track record.
Let’s be clear. This roster isn’t bad. They have talent in net, on the blue line and up front. Instead, what they need is a change, something some would consider a wake-up call. Most would prefer adding a legitimate threat up front, though those aren’t easy to come by. The biggest chip on the trade market all offseason was and remains Jack Eichel, who several fans have wanted the Flames to go after. Given his current injury, along with the Buffalo Sabres’ asking price, makes that move a big risk, one that appears too big for general manager Brad Treliving to pull the trigger on.
For those wanting a star forward added to the mix, there is a newly available one who may fit the bill in Tomas Hertl.
The San Jose Sharks forward is reportedly unhappy with how the team handled issues, particularly in regards to the discipline (or lack thereof) towards his controversial teammate in Evander Kane. It isn’t believed that he has requested a trade. However, he is clearly disgruntled at the moment, and given the Sharks’ struggles in recent years, he may very well welcome a move to a better roster.
Hertl Is a High Caliber Player
While many throughout the league know of the 27-year-old Hertl’s skill, he struggled with inconsistency until the 2018-19 season. Since then, however, he has completely turned the page and has become one of the better offensive producing centermen in the entire league.
In that mentioned 2018-19 season, he put up what stands as his career highs with 35 goals and 74 points in 77 games. He continued that production into the postseason that year with 10 goals and 15 points in 19 contests. That is something that should be very intriguing to Flames fans who have grown tired of watching their top players disappear time and time again in the playoffs.
Hertl’s 19 goals in the 2020-21 season would have tied Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm for the team lead, while his 43 points would have tied Matthew Tkachuk for third. This came despite the fact he played six fewer games than the three mentioned and was part of a much weaker Sharks roster.
He isn’t just an offensive-minded player either. As this chart from JFresh shows, he is fantastic in his own zone at even strength, and is also capable of playing the penalty kill, as he averaged 1:42 minutes per game last season when down a man. Whether or not the Flames would choose to use him in that particular role is unknown, but it helps prove how defensively responsible he is.
Cost to Acquire Hertl
The thing that makes acquiring Hertl tricky is his current contract situation. While he has a very team-friendly $5.63 million AAV, that deal has just one year remaining on it. Unless a move made by Treliving was a sign and trade, it is very risky considering he could leave in just one year. Interestingly enough, however, the Flames have a skilled player themselves in Sean Monahan, who is running out of time on his deal and could be of interest to the Sharks.
Monahan, 26, plays the same position as Hertl and is also very offensively gifted. His struggles during the 2020-21 season were in large part due to a hip injury that ended up requiring surgery. He is by all accounts good to go now and could be primed for a major bounce-back year, making him an intriguing addition for the Sharks if they were to move on from Hertl.
Unfortunately, giving up just Monahan wouldn’t be enough for the Sharks to deal Hertl. They would likely need a pick or prospect to go with it, at the very least. The Flames have a few untouchables, such as Matt Coronato, Connor Zary and Jakob Pelletier, but they have plenty of others who they would, or at the very least should, consider moving if that were to be what it takes to land Hertl.
Given the current situation the Sharks are in right now, they may very well be entertaining the thought of a rebuild. This would mean a player like Monahan would hold little to no value for them. If that were the case, that may mean shipping the long-time Flames forward out for prospects and/or picks and subsequently moving those or other prospects/picks they already have in their organization to the Sharks in exchange for Hertl.
Hertl Holds the Cards
Another difficult aspect in regards to bringing in Hertl is the fact that his contract has a modified no-trade clause. This, of course, means that if the Sharks and Flames were to agree on a deal, he would have the final decision as to whether or not the trade gets completed. Typically, players seem to enjoy American markets more than Canadian due to the warmer weather and less pressure from media, but Hertl’s situation may be different.
Given that the Sharks have not moved Kane and will be unlikely to anytime soon, Hertl may be willing to move just to get out of their locker room. On top of that, it certainly doesn’t hurt that he would have a strong chance at suiting up in the playoffs once again with the Flames, something he has not been able to do over the past two seasons. The fact he has just one year remaining on his deal may help in this case as well, as he would have the option to go to free agency next offseason and pick the team of his choice.
Changes Needed for the Flames
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, Flames fans are frustrated, and many want change. Plenty of those particular individuals believe Monahan should be the player to go, though there are still some who would prefer to keep him around.
Regardless of the criticism that Monahan has been facing lately, he is a very good player. In fact, if he were to be moved, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him get back to his old goal-scoring ways. However, this team needs to make some changes in order to find success, and players like Hertl don’t pop up on the trade market all too often. Treliving wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t at the very least inquire to see what the Sharks are looking for in a return for their talented Czech forward.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.