In fact, the gurus at NHL Central Scouting had Hertl fifth on their final release of international skaters in April of 2012. He was deemed a potential first-line candidate and was graded as "excellent" in two categories, stickhandling and scoring touch, before being selected No. 17 by the Sharks.
Following Hertl's remarkable four-goal outburst against the New York Rangers on Oct. 8, NHL.com reached out to NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb in an attempt to get a handle on the next wave of top prospects born in the Czech Republic and eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft.
Interestingly, Stubb acknowledged that the two top Czech natives aren't even playing in their own country. Instead, forwards Jakub Vrana and David Pastrnak have decided to hone their craft in Sweden.
"Usually, promising Czech talents move to North America, but these two are trying to reach the NHL via Sweden," Stubb told NHL.com. "Both are exceptional talents."
Stubb predicts both players will earn roster spots for the Czech Republic at the 2014 World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden.