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Knights add Sharks center in stunning move before trade deadline

Updated March 8, 2024 - 7:24 pm

Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon had one last rabbit to pull out of his hat before Friday’s NHL trade deadline.

Actually, it was a Shark.

The Knights pulled off a last-minute surprising trade for San Jose center Tomas Hertl, acquiring a player who has had a great deal of success against the Knights and was a key figure in the teams’ bitter rivalry.

Hertl has 484 points in 712 games, all with the Sharks. He memorably scored a short-handed goal during the second overtime in Game 6 of the 2019 Western Conference quarterfinals to hand the Knights a painful loss.

“My comments to him were, ‘If you play as well with us as you did against us, we will all be happy,’” McCrimmon said at a Friday news conference. “He’s been a player we’ve had tremendous regard for. You know him because he’s in the division, you know him because he was a younger player in what was a tremendous rivalry. We have a real good feel for him, and he’s going to be a real good fit for us.”

Hertl was the Knights’ third major addition this week. The team acquired right wing Anthony Mantha from the Washington Capitals on Tuesday and defenseman Noah Hanifin from the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.

Hertl, 30, has 15 goals and 34 points in 48 games this season. He will not be available when the Knights (33-23-7) host the Detroit Red Wings (33-23-6) on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena because he is on injured reserve.

The Sharks announced Feb. 12 that Hertl would have surgery to clean out loose cartilage in his left knee. McCrimmon said Hertl should return in the regular season.

“We’ll know a little bit more with respect to that timeline once he is examined by our trainers, but we are hopeful he will play before the regular season is concluded,” McCrimmon said. “He had a minor procedure on his knee.”

The price was steep for a player who is signed through the 2029-30 season, but the Sharks agreed to retain about 17 percent of Hertl’s salary of around $8.1 million for the remainder of the deal.

The Knights gave up their 2025 first-round pick and center prospect David Edstrom in the deal. They also received a 2025 and 2027 third-round pick from the Sharks.

Edstrom, 19, was the Knights’ first-round pick in 2023. The team has now traded six of the seven players they have taken in the first round in their history. The Knights also traded their 2018 and 2022 first-round picks before the draft. The only one the team has held on to is 2020 first-round pick Brendan Brisson.

McCrimmon said the Knights were agreeable to give up more because of the Sharks’ willingness to retain so much of Hertl’s salary.

Upon making the trade, McCrimmon got a glowing scouting report from former Knights defenseman and current team executive Deryk Engelland, who recalled how difficult it was to move Hertl off his spot because of his size and strength.

“The size, the power, the net-front presence, the puck protection,” McCrimmon said. “He’s elite in those areas, and I think it complements what we have, and that was an important reason behind our interest.”

McCrimmon said he had been in talks for weeks gauging the Sharks’ interest in dealing Hertl when he suffered the injury. The sides put negotiations on hold until learning that Hertl should return this season.

Even when the terms were finalized, there were more steps to complete. Hertl has a full no-movement clause, so he had to approve the trade.

“A deal like that gets pretty complex, especially with the retention and the term,” McCrimmon said. “That’s one we had to work out for a long time.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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