Tomas Hertl was brilliant in his rookie season, scoring 15 goals and 10 assists in 37 games in the 2013-14 NHL season plus two goals and three assists in seven Stanley Cup playoff games. He was the focus of the outlook series from CSN Bay Area Insider Kevin Kurz on Wednesday, Sept. 3.
The captions sum each of the five pictured predictions surrounding Hertl that are examined further below. They are done with the expectation that he is on Joe Thornton's line at even strength and on the second unit for the power play.
Hertl is just one year removed from being considered for something like the futures games CSN Bay Area announced Friday were going to be Sept. 13 and 14 in Anaheim. Now he is being counted on to help make up for the loss of Brent Burns to the blue line.
Hertl will not see a sophomore slump for a couple reasons. For one, he never really played a rookie season and is not really a sophomore. Teams still do not know his game well enough to adjust and make him have to respond.
He is also not a flash in the pan because he is not a one-dimensional player. He works hard defensively even if he is not great at it yet, and he skates well in addition to having remarkable hands that help him make moves and finish.
He is also a good-sized forward (6 ft., 2 in., 210 lbs.) capable of playing in the tough areas on both ends of the ice. The injury was not an omen of a career plagued with them, it was one of those things that happen that he can even learn to avoid.
The first prediction is thus that he plays a full season. Things happen during a season, so that does not mean he misses no games. However, he should play more than 75 games in the 2014-15 NHL season.
The average forward plays about 15 minutes a game, and the Sharks had five forwards with over 1200 minutes last season. Hertl will make that mark because he will get ample even-strength and man-advantage time.
That much ice time should enable him to score 30 goals. So will Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture (yes, four 30-goal scorers if all remain healthy for most of the 2014-15 NHL season), but none of them should have more time with Thornton and thus Hertl should lead San Jose in goals.
He also already knows how to dish the puck, and he will get a lot of assists when teammates clean up when goalies are able to stop his lethal shot. He will exceed 20 assists and score more than two points for every three games played during the 2014-15 NHL season.
One area Hertl will probably not lead is game-winning goals. Pavelski, Couture, Marleau and maybe even Tommy Wingels are better bets for that. Thus, the one negative prediction for this 20-year old phenom is only three game-winning scores.
What do you think of these predictions? Have any of your own to offer for Hertl's 2014-15 NHL season? Feel free to weigh in on the comments through Facebook or Disqus.