Sharks Need Tomas Hertl as Their Next Captain

Tomas Hertl has been a member of the San Jose Sharks for nine years, since he was the 17th overall selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He made his debut in 2013, and since then Hertl has been one of the most recognizable faces in the Sharks organization. However, for as much as he is loved in San Jose, no deal has been made to renew his contract with the club. Therefore, Hertl’s future in the teal is uncertain for the first time in his career.

Related: Sharks’ 2022 Free Agency Preview

While it’s undeniable that Hertl could bring in tons of assets for the Sharks in a trade, losing him would be a massive blow to the locker room. Sharks players and fans alike want to see him stay in San Jose. His dedication to the team goes far beyond most players, and not only should he stay a Shark, but he should also be their next captain.

“Fun Must Be Always”

Hertl’s personality has always been his most loveable trait, and it has led to him being one of the most popular players on the Sharks. For example, he knew practically no English when he came to the United States. As a result, Hertl’s broken English led to some of the most quotable moments in Sharks’ history, such as everyone’s favorite, “Fun must be always.”

As Hertl’s English got better, he continued to be more memorable by the day. Most notably, he guaranteed a game seven in round one of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs after the Sharks were down 3-2 against the Golden Knights. Following the Sharks’ victory in game five, he gave a media interview where he promised that the Sharks would be back at home for a Game 7. Not only did the Sharks deliver on the promise, but it was Hertl himself who scored the double-overtime goal that won game six.

Moments like these are why Hertl has become a fan-favorite in San Jose. Rather than take credit for himself, he gives it to his teammates and the fans. In addition, he has a sense of humility and humbleness that reflects in how he presents himself and talks about his team. These qualities are precisely what management searches for when deciding who should lead a team.

Hertl’s Electrifying Offense

While Hertl has always been a huge personality in the locker room, he has also been a huge performer on the ice. He consistently has above-average point totals at the end of each season, and while his numbers have never broken a point-per-game average, he has always been just a hair under that nearly every year. He is a substantial offensive driver on a Sharks team that can struggle to put pucks in the back of the net from time to time.

Tomas Hertl San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks (Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images)

Hertl’s most significant offensive contribution is his ability to fire up his team. When goal scoring is relatively low, he will always get the goal that starts the ball rolling offensively. In addition, he plays a decent two-way game; he is reliable at any end of the ice he’s on.

While offensive production and an excellent two-way game do not necessarily qualify a good captain, there is something so incredibly beneficial about being able to singlehandedly drive production for the entire team. When Hertl is having a good night, it is pretty standard that the rest of his team will also have a good night. If the Sharks can keep him, he will continually elevate the game of everyone who plays alongside him.

The Growing Youth Movement

The Sharks have been developing a prospect pool for a long time, and this season, they have begun to reach the point where many of their young prospects are getting ready to make their Sharks debut. One of the most critical parts of prospect development is their mentors once they reach the NHL. For Hertl, he was able to play alongside Sharks legends such as Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Pavelski. Now, as a young group of players approaches the NHL, he could be that same mentor for them.

Related: 5 Sharks Prospects Having Great Seasons

Some Sharks prospects have already gotten the opportunity to play with Hertl, which made a profound impact. For example, William Eklund got his first taste of the NHL at the beginning of this season. Each game he played, he was stationed on a line with Hertl. As a result, Eklund ended up putting up four points in nine games with the Sharks before he returned overseas. While Hertl is not the primary reason those points were scored, there is no denying that being on a line with him was excellent for Eklund’s development.

Hertl does not need to be the captain of the Sharks to help the development of young players, but he provides a lot of personality and drive that no one on the team can match. Does this mean that Couture should no longer be the captain of the team? No, not at all. Couture is still a good captain. However, Hertl could provide much more as the captain of the Sharks than he does currently.

Tomas Hertl, Braden Holtby
San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl celebrates his game-winning goal for a hat trick past Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Whether or not Hertl becomes the next captain of the Sharks will be utterly dependent on whether the club can re-sign him. However, if they manage to get the job done, Sharks fans and players alike will be thrilled to have him remain a member of the organization. Perhaps if he signs a new contract, he will be able to dawn the captaincy of the team that drafted him somewhere down the road.

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