Sharks notes: Strong start for Hertl

Sharks notes: Strong start for Hertl
December 5, 2012, 5:30 pm

The Sharks organization’s list of blue chip prospects is a brief one, due in large part to consistent regular season success and high-profile trades like the one that brought them defenseman Brent Burns two summers ago.

Recent first round pick Tomas Hertl, though, is one player to keep an eye on.

Currently in his second full season in the Czech Extraliga, the 17th overall pick in the 2012 draft is leading his team (HC Slavia Praha) in scoring with 19 points (11g, 8a) in 26 games, including four power play goals. He’s tied for 15th in the league in goals and 28th in scoring.

Making Hertl’s numbers even more impressive is that the Czech league employs several players much older and more seasoned than the 19-year-old, and the competition has only gotten better during the lockout. Among Hertl’s teammates are 25-year-old Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka, while established veterans like Jaromir Jagr, Tomas Plekanec and David Krejci have all suited up for Czech teams while the NHL is embroiled in a labor dispute.
Hertl had 25 points in 38 games last year, and his success against older, more experienced players in his first full season was one of the biggest reasons the Sharks made him their first round choice in Pittsburgh in June.

“He plays with men and has been very successful already,” Wilson told CSNCalifornia.com on draft day. “We just expect him to mature.”

Wilson and company have got to be happy with that maturation so far.

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Hertl, who had five points in six games in the World Junior Championships last winter, was one of two Sharks players invited to their respective country’s selection camp for the upcoming tournament. The other is Sean Kuraly, an American who dazzled at the national evaluation camp this summer in Lake Placid, NY, with six points (4g, 2a) in three games.

Kuraly is off to a slow start this year, with just three points (2g, 1a) in his first 14 games as a freshman at Miami of Ohio. Kuraly was drafted in the fifth round (133rd overall) of the 2011 draft by San Jose.

Wilson doesn’t like to put pressure on individual players coming up through the system, but was complimentary of Kuraly when I asked about him in October after he turned heads in Lake Placid.

“He showed what he’s capable of at that camp. That’s really all I’m going to say,” Wilson said. “I think you’ll see in the World Juniors this year, you’ll see some stuff.”

The World Juniors begin on Dec. 26 in Ufa, Russia, and conclude on Jan. 5.

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Douglas Murray is the latest Sharks player returning to North America, according to a Swedish website.

A Google translation of the release – always a bit tricky – seems to suggest that Murray, 32, who played 14 games with second-tier club Djurgarden, could return to Sweden if the NHL cancels the 2012-13 season.

TJ Galiardi (Germany), Antti Niemi (Finland) and Logan Couture (Switzerland) have all returned to North America recently after playing abroad. Marty Havlat is also back in the Bay Area, after spending several months in the Czech Republic with his new daughter.