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Hertl Looking to Improve on Rookie Season

Thursday, 07.10.2014 / 5:04 PM / News
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Hertl Looking to Improve on Rookie Season
San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl wants to continue to improve after a rookie season that had its share of highs and lows.

SAN JOSE -- Tomas Hertl's rookie season with the San Jose Sharks was packed with meteoric highs and devastating lows, each sudden change in elevation a valuable learning experience.

Hertl grabbed the national spotlight in his third NHL game when he scored four goals against the New York Rangers on October 8, 2013 at SAP Center. He capped the performance with a between-the-legs, top-shelf goal.

Tomas Hertl
Center - SJS
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 10 | PTS: 25
SOG: 98 | +/-: 11

Two months later, Hertl's Calder Trophy dreams came to an end when he damaged two ligaments in his right knee December 19 in a collision with Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown. Hertl returned for the final two regular-season games and seven games in the Sharks' loss to the Kings in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We found out a lot about Tomas when things were going good, but we also found out a lot of things about him when things weren't so good," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Wednesday during development camp. "His commitment to his rehab and to getting back into the lineup was exceptional, his want to play with his teammates in the playoffs. He showed us a lot of real positives through the bad times as much as through the good times last year."

Now a year older and wiser, Hertl, 20, is preparing for his second NHL season.

"I was up high with those four goals and then it was lower because of injury," Hertl said. "I was working hard to get back. I learned all season and it's going to help me."

Hert was on the ice for the first two days of development camp but sat out practice and the scrimmage Wednesday because of soreness in his right knee.

"It's not serious," Hertl said, flashing his ever-present smile. "A long time [with] no skating. My last time skating was the World Championship (in May). It's just a little bit sore. Just for safety."

Hertl played for the Czech Republic at the IIHF World Championship in Belarus and scored three goals skating on a line with Jaromir Jagr, his hockey idol. It was the latest instance when Hertl showed his knack for putting the puck in the net. He had 15 goals and 10 assists in 37 regular-season NHL games and two goals and three assists in the playoffs.

The Sharks have made it clear they're in a rebuilding mode and want their talented young players, including Hertl, to play bigger roles and take on more responsibility.

"I think he's going to have a fantastic year," said Sharks forward Matt Nieto, who is entering his second NHL season. "I think in a way last year was probably a good learning experience for him, being able to battle adversity and ending up being able to play in the playoffs. I know he worked really hard in rehab. He's got a really good work ethic, and we all know his skill and talent level. I think he's going to pick up right where he left off and be a big part of the team."

Hertl sounded anything but satisfied or overconfident at camp. He said he needs to "play good" this season to avoid getting sent to Worcester of the American Hockey League.

"I'm still learning," said Hertl, the No. 17 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. "Last year was my first NHL year. I'm still learning because here there are so many very, very good players. It's the best. It's the NHL. I hope it's all OK and I stay here all the time."

Hertl will return soon to his home in the Czech Republic and continue working out there before returning to San Jose in late August.

"I need to practice, get stronger in my whole body and stronger in my knee," Hertl said.

McLellan has high expectations for Hertl this season but knows there's no guarantee he won't regress.

"There's the second-year player that gets it and graduates and moves on, and then there's some second-year players that allow themselves to coast a little bit, slip, maybe they don't work as hard," McLellan said. "I think Tomas is that first guy, but he's got a summer ahead of him where he's got to continue to work and make sure he's in NHL condition, in NHL strength.

"No one questions his skill level, and if he does those things he'll set himself up well for a great season. If he doesn't, he's going to play catch-up. He knows that. He's been told that and I certainly believe he's the type that will take advantage of his summer."

Author: Eric Gilmore | NHL.com Correspondent

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NSH 62 41 14 7 188 147 89
2 ANA 62 38 17 7 182 174 83
3 STL 61 39 18 4 190 152 82
4 CHI 62 37 20 5 183 146 79
5 WPG 63 31 20 12 174 170 74
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 61 32 22 7 173 160 71
8 LAK 60 29 19 12 162 153 70
9 CGY 61 33 24 4 174 158 70
10 SJS 62 30 24 8 173 177 68
11 DAL 61 27 25 9 191 202 63
12 COL 61 26 24 11 161 175 63
13 ARI 62 20 35 7 137 210 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 62 31 25 12 56
L. Couture 62 21 32 2 53
J. Thornton 58 12 40 -2 52
B. Burns 62 16 29 -3 45
P. Marleau 62 13 31 -14 44
T. Wingels 55 12 15 -5 27
T. Hertl 62 10 14 -3 24
J. Braun 51 1 19 3 20
M. Vlasic 57 7 11 10 18
M. Karlsson 33 9 7 4 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 24 16 7 .913 2.62
A. Stalock 5 7 1 .899 2.85
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