Sharks: With Hertl Out for Season, Is Finally Time to Rebuild?

The San Jose Sharks will be without forward Tomas Hertl for the remainder of the season, the team announced Thursday.

Hertl has a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee.

The 26-year-old was forced to leave his club’s game against the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday after just about 1:10 in ice time. He appeared to go into the boards with Canucks defenceman Chris Tanev and it’s believed that’s when the injury occurred.

“That’s not something you like to see,” Sharks defenceman Erik Karlsson said. “He’s been playing good for us lately. He’s a big part of this team, especially with [Logan Couture] out.”

Hertl had just returned from the All-Star weekend, where he donned a Justin Bieber mask in a shootout against Jordan Binnington and scored buckets of goals for the Pacific Division. He should’ve been named the MVP of that contest, but that’s another debate for another day.

Now, the Hertl injury is an indication of exactly how things have gone for the Sharks this season.

Hertl, who produced 16 goals and a total of 36 points in 48 games this season, was one of few shining stars for the San Jose offence. With Couture out at least another three to four weeks, the window of potential playoff hockey is closing for the California club.

It was supposed to be different. The Sharks bet a lot on the acquisition of Karlsson and played hardball with draft picks in a way that’s coming back to bite them now. They’ve gone without first-round picks in 2019 and 2020 and are now set to enter a tricky period of salary cap crunchiness. With the deadline approaching, they can sell off a few veterans – namely Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, mercifully – but that’s about it.

The Hertl injury and the positioning of the Sharks this season effectively seals the deal and sets up the future for San Jose, whatever it may hold. Right now, the smart money is on a rebuild and a re-tool to avoid the sort of circumstances that felled the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks.

This is the third time in seven seasons Hertl’s had knee trouble. As a rookie, he had surgery on his right knee. In November of 2016, he had surgery on a sprained right knee. After a minor injury this season, in fact, Hertl had imaging done on his right knee.

San Jose is currently sixth in the Pacific Division with a 22-26-4 record. They host the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday.

Photo credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

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