After just three games, Czech forward Tomas Hertl has six goals and seven points, leading the NHL in both at the moment. Yes, we all knew the kid had potential, but unless you are Miss Cleo you did not see this coming. It leads us to wonder, what kind of potential does Hertl have?
Tomas Hertl has always been known as being offensively gifted in everything ranging from puck possession to offensive awareness and hand-eye coordination (for deflections, etc.), but the big knock on him was his skating.
Prior to the 2012 NHL draft Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus wrote “Hertl certainly needs work on his skating as he’s below average on a good day, but that part of his game usually looks replacement level—especially his first few steps—although his standstill agility and balance are solid.”
In the past he has been considered a potential top-six forward, although most had him topping out around the second line. The catch was, however, that you would have to develop his skating ability before he would be NHL ready.
Well, he has definitely been improving and last season he was the leading scorer on his team HC Slavia Praha in the Men’s Czech League. In 43 regular season games he had 18 goals and 12 assists. He also scored another eight points in 11 playoff games.
So far this season Hertl has been everything we thought he could be and more. Even head coach Todd McLellan had said prior to San Jose’s first game of the season that “he’s got a tremendous amount of poise with the puck, he seems to read off Jumbo and Burnzie very well and he has finished.”
The most impressive thing about Hertl’s six goals this season have come in a variety of ways, including on the breakaway, deflections in front of the net and on the power play. It’s great seeing he can do it all offensively too and is not afraid to get to the front of the net. His hitting ability is not bad either.
Even greater for him is the fact that he has been given the opportunity to play alongside one of the great playmakers in the NHL in Joe Thornton. Add Brent Burns to that line and you have a trio who can all maintain possession of the puck at will.
So how good can the 19-year old Czech be? As we said earlier, he has been drawing comparisons to Czech great Jaromir Jagr. After last night, the sky is the limit with this kid and while I don’t want to go so far as to say he could be the next Jagr because it has only been three games, but he definitely has all the tools to do it. Hertl’s biggest weakness was his skating ability, but if I remember correctly Jagr was not the ‘fleetest of foot’ on the ice either.