Vegas acquires Tomas Hertl in blockbuster trade with Sharks

ByKristen Shilton ESPN logo
Saturday, March 9, 2024

The Vegas Golden Knights got a blockbuster trade in under the wire Friday, acquiring forward Tomas Hertl, a 2025 third-round pick and 2027 third-round choice from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2025 first-round pick and forward David Edstrom (Vegas' first-round draft choice in 2023). The Sharks will also retain 17% of Hertl's salary.

Hertl has six seasons remaining on an eight-year, $65.1 million contract he signed in March 2022. The Sharks holding back 17% of Hertl's salary leaves his cap hit at $6.75 million for Vegas to carry. The 30-year-old also had a full no-move clause he would have had to waive to join the Golden Knights. But Hertl won't be stepping right into their lineup. The veteran has been sidelined since having surgery Feb. 12 to clean out loose cartilage in his left knee. Expectations are that he will be ready to return in time for the playoffs.

Moving from San Jose to Vegas takes Hertl from one of the NHL's worst teams this season to a legitimate contender. And while the Sharks have struggled throughout the season -- and sit 31st overall -- Hertl has played well, collecting 15 goals and 34 points in 48 games. He's an impressive two-way skater who projects to be a top-six center for the Golden Knights now, contributing at 5-on-5 and special teams, winning puck battles, and wielding playmaking abilities to complement Vegas' arsenal of established players that guided the Golden Knights to a Stanley Cup win last spring.

The Hertl trade was Vegas' second big swing ahead of Friday's 3 p.m. deadline. The Golden Knights acquired defenseman Noah Hanifin earlier in the week from Calgary to bolster their blueline as well. In an interesting twist, the trade for Hertl also impacted the conditions on Hanifin -- instead of the Flames receiving a top-10-protected 2025 first-round pick (which Vegas just swapped to San Jose) for the defenseman, they will now get an unconditional first-round choice in 2026.

The Golden Knights also added forward Anthony Mantha to beef up their offensive depth.

In San Jose's case, shipping Hertl to Vegas does clear some cap room. But per CapFriendly data, retaining salary on the six years Hertl has left means the Sharks have now used their league-allotted three slots for trade-related salary retention in 2024-25 and two slots in each of 2025-26 and 2026-27. That will impact how San Jose -- well into a rebuild that could last for years -- can broker transactions over the next few seasons.

On Vegas' end, it had no projected salary cap space before grabbing Hertl and will have to figure out how to fit his hit into the team's long-term plans. Since Hertl is injured now and there is no salary cap compliance mandated in the postseason, the Knights can avoid ironing out that situation until before next season.

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