Sharks sign top prospect Hertl

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Sharks sign top prospect Hertl
May 29, 2013, 7:45 pm
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Tomas Hertl, center, smiles with officials from the Sharks after being chosen 17th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. (AP)

The Sharks have agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract with prospect Tomas Hertl, an NHL source has confirmed to CSNCalifornia.com. RDS’ Renaud Levoie originally reported the news, which will be officially announced by the club on Thursday.

Hertl, the Sharks’ first round pick (17th overall) in 2012, could challenge for a spot on the Sharks’ opening night roster next season. In 43 games playing in the top league in the Czech Republic, the 19-year-old center had 18 goals and 12 assists for 30 points. In 2011-12, Hertl had 25 points (12g, 13a) in 38 games. He played for his native Czech Republic in the World Junior Championships the last two seasons.

At the NHL draft in Pittsburgh last June, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told me the team had targeted Hertl with its first round pick.

“[Hertl] is a player that our guys really had a good read on,” Wilson said at the time. “We saw him, obviously, at World Juniors. He plays in a men’s league. It’s not only his size, but we think his versatility, too. Just a good, good fit for what our needs are, and where the game is at in the league.”

The Sharks were Hertl’s favorite NHL team while growing up in the Czech Republic.

Shortly after being drafted in Pittsburgh, Hertl said: “I’m going to go back and work to make it to the [Sharks].”

I asked him his strengths, and what he needed to work on minutes after he tried on a Sharks sweater for the first time at Consol Energy Center.

“My strengths are working with the puck, around the net, passes, shots. I need to work on skating and strength – and English,” he said with a grin.

When the Sharks chose Hertl, it was just the second time in the last five years they used their first round pick. The only other player chosen in the first round in that span was forward Charlie Coyle in 2010, who was traded to Minnesota as part of the deal for defenseman Brent Burns, and just completed his rookie year with the Wild.