Once again the San Jose Sharks are going to have to play with a hole in the lineup for the forseeable future, this time due to an injury to Tomas Hertl which he suffered on a knee-on-knee hit from Dustin Brown on December 19th. The problem is that this time that hole will be vacant for a majority of this season, and even possibly for the rest of it. Fortunately he had successful surgery to repair his injured PCL and MCL and will begin the rehab process soon.
The San Jose lineup had taken a similar hit earlier on this season when Brent Burns, another top-six forward, was out for quite a few games at the beginning of the season. Even Hertl himself missed a few games early on but he came back just fine. Other than that though this will be the biggest blow to the team offensively barring any more major setbacks.
That’s not to take away from guys like Raffi Torres and Adam Burish who have been out since the beginning of the season, but Hertl has already established himself as one of the Sharks’ best wingers. Not only that, he was poised for a spot on the Czech National Team and was in the lead for the Calder Trophy (NHL’s rookie of the year) before he went down. Hertl still leads all NHL rookies with 15 goals and a total of 25 points in 35 games to go along with his 10 assists.
Yes, the San Jose Sharks will definitely miss Tomas Hertl this season, but I think they will manage. Obviously, it will take some getting used to, especially with the reshuffling of the lines, but with their depth this season San Jose has the ability to bounce back.
Still, losing a guy who is third on the team in goals (2nd before his injury) would hurt anyone, and the Sharks are no exception. But, with his injury, it opens up some opportunities for others to step up. Oddly enough a couple of key injuries before training camp is what gave him his shot.
One of those guys, Bracken Kearns, has already made an impact with his first two career NHL goals in his first two games. Still, the Sharks will need more from the bottom half of their lineup and particularly from guys like Tyler Kennedy and Martin Havlat who have not been performing at the level they or the Sharks would like. Also, I expect James Sheppard to get some more time up with the top six considering he has played extremely well this season.
With Tomas Hertl out for quite a while it once again falls to the Sharks’ depth to help make up for the difference. Also, if San Jose can hang in there until after the Olympic break they may get some reinforcements with Torres still on track for a return at that point.