The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline isn't until March 2022 but we can expect to hear plenty of speculation over Tomas Hertl's future between now and then. Slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July, the 27-year-old San Jose Sharks center could become trade bait if he doesn't have a new contract before deadline day.
A skilled two-way forward who can play center or wing, Hertl reached or exceeded 43 points four times in the past eight seasons despite a history of knee injuries. He enjoyed a career-best 74 points performance in 2018-19.
Hertl is in the final season of a four-year deal worth an annual average value of $5.625 million. He could prove difficult to re-sign for a Sharks team in transition with over $66 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23.
NHL.com's Tracey Myers reported Hertl had yet to discuss a new contract with Sharks management but his focus was on his play and helping his teammates. “For me, it doesn't matter because I think I've proven I can be a good player, I've shown I can be a leader and I just want to do that and not think about my next deal,” he said.
Myers noted Hertl's UFA status has already made him the subject of trade rumors heading into training camp. An internet rumor linking him to the Ottawa Senators was debunked by the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch. Boston Hockey Now's Joe Haggerty suggested Hertl would be a better fit than Charlie Coyle as the Bruins' second-line center.
The longer Hertl goes without a new deal, the more frequently his name will surface in this season's trade rumors.