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Hertl signs two-year contract with Sharks

Forward set career high in goals this season, unsure if he'll play in World Cup of Hockey @NHLdotcom

Forward Tomas Hertl signed a two-year contract with the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

Hertl, 22, could have become a restricted free agent Friday. The contract has an average annual value of $3 million, TSN reported.  

"This kind of deal is consistent with what we've done with players in the past," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. "Tomas will be a dominant player and a longer-term deal is in his future. But this is how we've handled players going through our system, and I can't say enough how much I appreciate Tomas giving us the bridge deal that allows us to keep this team together (and revisit after two seasons)."

Hertl, who played half of this season on a line with captain Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton, was tied with Joel Ward for fourth on the Sharks with an NHL career-high 21 goals and was fifth with 46 points in 81 games. He had six goals and 11 points in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games.  

Video: SJS@PIT, Gm1: Hertl beats Murray through the pads

"I played really good hockey with Pavelski and Thornton," Hertl said. "I enjoyed both guys, they are top NHL players and it was a great experience. They helped me get this contract, too, because we all scored a lot of goals this season."

Hertl missed the final four games of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins after sustaining a right knee injury in a collision with Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist late in the third period of Game 2. Hertl said he will not need surgery and expects to be ready for the start of next season.

"It was hard watching your teammates on television and knowing you can't help them," Hertl said. "Every day is a waiting game, but I'm looking forward to the new season. We have a lot of the players coming back and that means we'll have a real good chance at going far again."

Hertl said he expects to be ready for the start of the regular season but wasn't as sure about playing for Team Czech Republic in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey to be held Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 in Toronto. The World Cup ends about the time NHL training camps starts.

"I don't know about World Cup," Hertl said. "I just want to be 100 percent for the (NHL) regular season and not just 80 percent. I believe I will be 100 percent for the season, but for World Cup we'll see how it goes."

Video: STL@SJS, Gm3: Hertl hammers slap shot past Elliott

Wilson said he appreciates Hertl's love for the game and expects him to only get better as he matures.

"I don't think I'm going to put a limit on [how good he can get]," Wilson said. "He's a big, strong guy with good puck possession. All the things he does are consistent with what we thought when we drafted him (17th in 2012). He has high expectations of himself, and when you see that smile on his face, it's contagious."

Hertl had 202 shots on goal, a plus-16 rating and led San Jose in faceoff win percentage (56 percent) this season. He was asked if he prefers playing left wing or center.

"I like both; I don't really think about it too much," Hertl said. "The coaches put me in a position to succeed whether it be at center, left wing or right wing. I know when playing center you have to concentrate a bit more in the defensive zone, but I'm ready for whatever challenge the coaches give me."

Wilson said he likes the fact Hertl always seemed to come up big in tough situations.

"He knows when to step up and we missed him when he was out against the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final, there's no doubt about that," Wilson said. "He'll be 100 percent for next season and is training hard already. He loves to play and we're proud to have him part of this organization."

Next on Wilson's wish list is signing pending restricted free agent forward Matt Nieto and defenseman Dylan DeMelo.

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