19-year-old Tomas Hertl is slowly making his way up the ranks of the San Jose Sharks and is arguably the team's most promising prospect.
The Sharks do not have the best talent among their prospects in the team's system. Trades and acquisitions that included the additions of Brent Burns and Martin Havlat required San Jose to give up a good amount of draft picks and prospects, one of which included arguably the team's future in Charlie Coyle.
Coyle has surely caught the attention of his new franchise, the Minnesota Wild. During the 2011-12 season for the Saint John Sea Dogs, the 20-year-old tallied 15 goals and 23 assists in 23 games. In the playoffs, he had 15 goals and 19 assists in 17 games.
Coyle's talent is long gone from the Sharks' system now.
It is very much the reason why such attention has been turned towards Hertl. The 17th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft has 19 points in 26 games in his second season in Czech Extraliga.
"Making Hertl’s numbers even more impressive is that the Czech league employs several players much older and more seasoned than the 19-year-old, and the competition has only gotten better during the lockout."
"Hertl had 25 points in 38 games last year, and his success against older, more experienced players in his first full season was one of the biggest reasons the Sharks made him their first round choice in Pittsburgh in June."
Hertl does not have much speed, but there are parallels to Logan Couture in the way he plays. Hertl is 6'2" and weighs nearly the same as Couture at around 198 pounds. Both have terrific hands and offensive awareness, but it is speed that has been the knock on both players. Couture has overcome that significantly, while the verdict is still out on the young Hertl.
The problem here is the Sharks do not have much backing up Hertl among their top prospects.
Winger Matt Nieto has received a fair share of attention and should see his rise to the NHL come sooner rather than later. However, there has been some dip with defenseman Taylor Doherty, whose 6'7" frame had most dying to see him in San Jose. That may be a long ways off now for the 21-year-old.
It would seem, though, that the NHL lockout has benefited the Sharks in one way. It has given them the chance to see their prospects in action against professional talent. Hertl has stood out among the pack and that can only be good news for San Jose's depleted system of prospects.
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