San Jose Sharks News & Rumors: Hertl, Middleton, Couture & More

In this edition of San Jose Sharks News & Rumors, many believe that despite the team’s attempts to re-sign Tomas Hertl, they may be better off trading him. Those aren’t the only trade rumors going on in San Jose, as Jake Middleton is picking up interest from a number of teams around the league. In other news, despite their poor stretch of play as of late, Logan Couture still believes his team can make a push for the playoffs. Last but not least, Alex Stalock is back in the organization after being acquired in a trade from the Edmonton Oilers.

Sharks May Be Wise to Trade Hertl

There have been few players around the league that have grabbed headlines like Hertl this season, due to the fact he is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The 28-year-old seems open to the thought of re-signing with the Sharks, and the organization has openly admitted they would like to get an extension done. While it remains to be seen what will happen, many believe it is in the team’s best organization to move him before the March 21 trade deadline.

Tomas Hertl #48, San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

One of those individuals is former NHLer Mike McKenna, who works for Daily Faceoff. The former goaltender recently wrote an article highlighting the fact that the Sharks have several bad contracts on their books in aging players such as Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Erik Karlsson. Due to the fact that those three all still have significant term left on their deals, McKenna, like many, believes they won’t be a competitive team for a number of years.

Hertl, as McKenna mentions, will be in line for a significant raise from his current deal that carries a cap hit of $5.625 million. He will also likely sign for maximum term, which would be eight years if he does stay with the Sharks. That would mean he is under contract until the age of 36, which could end up being another bad deal for the team down the road. Given the fact there are many teams interested, they may be best off to get a great package for the Czech forward and begin to build for the future.

Middleton Picking up Interest

One defenceman the Sharks may move ahead of the deadline is Middleton. According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the 26-year-old rearguard has received interest from teams such as the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.

“An under-the-radar name for the Sharks that’s garnering some interest? Defenceman Jacob Middleton, who has partnered with both Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns at times this year,” LeBrun said. “He’s part of that penalty-killing crew that’s ranked second in the NHL. He’s a restricted free agent at the end of the year, he’s making only $725,000, he’s a bit of an old-school physical brand that teams headed to the playoffs like to stash on their roster. Among the teams that have kicked the tires, I’m told, are Tampa Bay, Boston and St. Louis.”

As mentioned by LeBrun, Middleton is an inexpensive option for any Stanley Cup hopeful teams to add to their roster as depth. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound defenceman has suited up for a career-high 39 games this season, registering three goals and eight points while averaging just under 19 minutes of ice time per game.

Couture Still Hopeful to Make Postseason

Heading into the 2021-22 campaign, expectations were quite low for this Sharks squad. However, a solid start to the season had them in the playoff race through the first quarter of the season, which gained plenty of optimism for their fans. Unfortunately for them, things have fallen off in a big way as of late, as they are just 2-5-3 in their past 10 games and are currently 12 points behind the Dallas Stars for the final wild-card position in the Western Conference. Despite this, captain Logan Couture still believes they can make a run and get into the playoffs.

“We’re a run away from being close to a playoff spot,” Couture said. “And obviously, it’s a team sport, but you need your best players to contribute on a nightly basis in this league. We need to score more, we need to slow their team’s lines, contribute more to our team, no matter who’s in the lineup or who’s out of it. I think we knew that, as a group plan, that is what we needed to do, but [head coach Bob Boughner] was just reinforcing that.”

Logan Couture San Jose Sharks
Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Whether Couture truly believes that or is just trying to remain positive is unknown, but the 32-year-old deserves credit for putting in a great effort on a nightly basis despite his team’s recent struggles. He has continued to be productive in 2021-22 with 19 goals and 41 points through 52 games.

Sharks Acquire Stalock

At this time last year, it appeared Stalock’s career could be over after he was diagnosed with myocarditis after having dealt with COVID-19 in November of 2020. He has since received the green light to return, however, and was sent by his former team in the Edmonton Oilers to the American Hockey League to attempt a comeback. He went on to play in just five games for the Bakersfield Condors — the Oilers’ AHL affiliate — before the Oilers dealt him to the Sharks in exchange for future considerations.

Related: Sharks Writers Roundtable: Trade Deadline, Prospects & More

This has turned into a feel-good story, as the 34-year-old netminder made his first NHL start since the 2019-20 season this past Saturday. It didn’t go the way he had hoped, as he was pulled in the third period after allowing six goals on 28 shots versus the Nashville Predators. Despite the end result, it was great to see him make his way back to the NHL. He remains on the Sharks’ roster and may get another start in the near future as both James Reimer and Adin Hill remain are on injured reserve.

Up Next for the Sharks

The Sharks’ only two games of the week will take place against a divisional rival in the L.A. Kings. The first will be on the road at the Arena, while the second will be played at the SAP Center. The Kings have been one of the NHL’s biggest surprises to this point in the 2021-22 season, as they own an impressive 32-19-7 record through 58 games.

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