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

In this edition of San Jose Sharks News & Rumors, Tomas Hertl is off the trade board, as he signed a lengthy extension on Wednesday afternoon. That doesn’t mean the Sharks won’t be making any moves however, as defenceman Jake Middleton is still picking up a ton of interest ahead of the deadline. In other news, Joe Thornton returned to the SAP Center on Tuesday night and was greeted with a tribute video and a roaring ovation. Last but not least, Alexander Barabanov, who is on a one-year deal, is hoping to receive an extension from the Sharks.

Hertl Signs Lucrative Extension

All season long, rumors have swirled as to whether or not Hertl would remain a Shark or be traded for future assets ahead of the deadline. Those questions can finally be put to rest, as the two sides were able to work out a new deal.

Tomas Hertl #48, San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl #48, San Jose Sharks, Oct. 9, 2018 versus the Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

According to several reports, Hertl has agreed to an eight-year, $64 million deal that will carry an average annual value (AAV) of $8 million. It is a massive pay raise for the 28-year-old, who is in the final year of a four-year, $22.5 million deal. This contract will keep the Czech forward locked up until the age of 36, which could turn problematic down the road but is a solid deal for the time being. In 59 games this season he has 25 goals and 48 points.

Middleton Continuing to Receive Interest

Last week, it was reported that teams such as the Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins had all expressed interest for Middleton. The list of teams is continuing to grow, as TSN’s Pierre LeBrun mentioned on the latest Insider Trading that the Toronto Maple Leafs are also looking to add the 26-year-old rearguard.

Related: San Jose Sharks’ 2022 Trade Deadline Preview

While Middleton is by no means flashy, any team picking him up would be getting a great depth option. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound defenceman knows his role and plays a very honest game. He also has a bit of a mean streak which would really benefit a team like the Maple Leafs who have been pushed around in past years come playoff time. In a career high 42 games this season, Middleton has three goals, nine points, and 62 penalty minutes.

Thornton Returns to San Jose

On Tuesday night, Thornton and the Florida Panthers faced off against the Sharks, a team in which the future Hall-of-Famer spent 15 seasons of his career with. Though the 42-year-old was never able to bring a Stanley Cup to San Jose, he was the main reason they were an extremely dominant team for a long period of time, and last night proved just how appreciative the fan base is for all that he has done.

Joe Thornton San Jose Sharks
Joe Thornton as a member of the San Jose Sharks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

At a stoppage during the first period, the Sharks played a tribute video for Thornton, and the crowd erupted. After the video was finished, Sharks players tapped their sticks as a sign of respect for the franchise icon. The entire moment clearly meant a lot to Thornton, who had a giant smile on his face and gave several waves to the crowd. It was very deserving for a man who tallied 1055 points in 1104 games as a Shark.

Barbanov Hoping to be Extended

The 2021-22 season has been a nice breakout campaign for Barbanov, who entering the season had just eight career points in 22 career games. He has been a pleasant surprise and a very valuable one given that he carries a cap hit of just $1 million, as in 51 games this season he has recorded nine goals and 30 points.

According to Sheng Peng of San Jose Hockey Now, the organizations first and only concern at the moment was extending Hertl. However, now that they appear to have gotten that deal completed, it will be interesting to see if they shift their focus toward Barabanov. Peng mentioned that he has heard the 27-year-olds camp is optimistic he will be offered a deal, but as of now they have not heard anything. Of course, there is also the possibility that he gets dealt as a rental to a playoff contending team, though not much has been discussed on that front.

Up Next for the Sharks

The Sharks have a busy schedule to close out their week, as they will play three games between Thursday and Sunday. The first will come Thursday evening against a divisional rival in the L.A. Kings, while the following night will see them take on one of the leagues elite in the Colorado Avalanche. Last up is a Sunday tilt against the lowly Arizona Coyotes. While playoffs are out of the picture for this squad, it would be great to see them start racking up wins as the season begins to wind down.

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