NHL Rumor Mill – September 20, 2021
NHL.COM: Tracey Myers recently reported Tomas Hertl isn’t concerned about his future with the San Jose Sharks. He’s an unrestricted free agent next July but claims his focus is on the upcoming season.
Hertl, 27, said he’ll see if there will be any contract discussions with management once he reports to training camp this week. If not, he said he’s not going to worry about it because he wants to avoid worrying about his contract year.
“For me, it doesn’t matter because I think I’ve proven I can be a good player,” said Hertl. “I’ve shown I can be a leader and I just want to do that and not think about my next deal.” He added he wants to play his best hockey and help his teammates, hoping to be as supportive to his younger teammates as former Sharks Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski were to him earlier in his career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl might not be thinking about his contract status but others will be, especially if the Sharks are out of playoff contention as the March trade deadline draws near. A healthy and strong performance on his part will generate plenty of conjecture over his future once the calendar flips to 2022.
Hertl’s already become the subject of trade speculation. An internet rumor floating around last month linked him to the Ottawa Senators but they reportedly have had no discussions with the Sharks. Some observers in Boston think Hertl would make a fine replacement for recently departed center David Krejci.
STLTODAY.COM: In a recent mailbag, Tom Timmermann was asked about the status of Robert Thomas. The 22-year-old restricted free agent forward remains unsigned but was skating in development camp sessions, which suggests he expects to join his teammates in training camp this week.
The Blues are pressed against the $81.5 million salary cap. With Oskar Sundqvist expected to go on long-term injury reserve to start the season, they’ll have around $3.5 million to work with as they attempt to sign Thomas. However, they’ll have to free up cap room once Sundqvist is ready to return to action. Timmermann also suggests this gives the Blues a little more time to find a trade partner for Vladimir Tarasenko.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were reports earlier in the offseason suggesting Thomas wanted a contract similar to Jordan Kyrou’s two-year, $5.6 million deal. It doesn’t sound like he’s going to get that much, perhaps a one-year deal for at most $2 million. They’ll likely clear cap space on Sundqvist’s return by demoting one or two extra skaters.
Trading Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual cap hit would free up cap room for Thomas’ new deal and leave much more room for other moves if necessary over the course of the season. However, general manager Doug Armstrong said he anticipates Tarasenko will be on their opening-day roster next month. Given the winger’s high cap hit, it could take months until a suitable trade partner is found.