By: Kevin O’Keefe | Follow me on Twitter @Kevin_OKeefe89
The most recent addition to the NHL’s rumor mill has caught the attention of many Bruins fans who would like to see an upgrade at the second-line center position. With the departure of the long-time center, David Krejci; Bruins general manager Don Sweeney would like to see what his center depth can accomplish before diving headfirst into the trade market. This approach seems to have created a divide within the fans on what Sweeney’s plans mean for a team that wants to reward their aging core with another cup run.
San Jose Sharks center, Tomas Hertl, has reportedly voiced his dismay with the franchise, and this, in turn, has led to the rumor of a trade in the making. Hertl would be a hot commodity among contending teams who believe the skilled center would put them at the top of the favorites list for the Stanley Cup. One of those teams would be the Boston Bruins.
Hertl would make a ton of sense for this team when looking at the roster and where it stands. Krejci has moved on, and Patrice Bergeron is coming to the end of his contract this season. Bergeron also is coming towards the end of his career, and with no one in the pipeline ready to take over that position, Hertl seems like an obvious answer to a huge problem.
The 27-year-old Hertl has some good size standing at 6-foot-2, weighing 215-pounds. Throughout his career, he has amassed 323-points in 503-games-played. His best season with the Sharks came in the 2018-2019 season, where he put up 35-goals and 74-points in 77-games-played. He plays a solid all-around game at both ends of the ice, which is an asset the Bruins covet and is still in the prime years of his career.
This is a guy you could slot in on your 1st-line between Marchand and Pastrnak once the inevitable decline and retirement takes place for Patrice Bergeron. Jack Studnicka has yet to prove he is capable of taking over a top-six role to this point, and he is, as of right now, your closest center to being NHL ready. Charlie Coyle will get a shot at second-line duties this season, and this will give the Bruins an idea of where they really stand at the center position moving forward.
What would a trade for Hertl look like? Well, first, we need to look at his contract. Hertl has one year left on a contract that has a $5.625-million cap hit and a modified no-trade clause. This clause allows him to submit a 3-team trade list to where he can be traded to. First and foremost, Hertl would need to want to come to Boston and put them as one of the three teams on that list. Secondly, the Bruins would need to clear out space to bring in Hertl’s cap hit. Those are already two tough obstacles to clear.
The cost to acquire Hertl’s services would also be steep. A first-round pick in next year’s draft would be a must, along with another pick and a solid prospect or two. For the Bruins, that would be a tough ask as the prospect pool is already running low. The Sharks would certainly want a center prospect back to replace Hertl; that would probably mean Studnicka would be going the other way. A realistic trade proposal for the Bruins could consist of a 2022 first and third-round pick, plus center Jack Studnicka. Even that may not get it done.
With the Bruins being near the bottom of the league when it comes to their prospect pool and their first-round pick likely being later in the first round, it wouldn’t be hard for one of the other suitors for his services to beat out a Bruins proposal. Not only that, but I also find it highly unlikely Don Sweeney would part with a first-round pick for a rental with no assurance he would be re-signing with the Bruins. This upcoming entry draft is extremely deep and is one that I wouldn’t want to not have your top-end picks for. If the Bruins are to land Hertl, Sweeney’s best hope would be to snag him in free agency this upcoming off-season if he hits the open market.