Tomas Hertl views the late start to this season as an opportunity for his surgically repaired knee to get even stronger, the San Jose Sharks forward told The Athletic.
“I feel good,” Hertl told the website in comments published Tuesday. “I started actually skating in early August back home when I was in [the] Czech [Republic], and now we’re skating three times a week here (in the Bay Area). My knee is feeling good. If [the Sharks were playing games] I’d be for sure ready to play right now. It’s no issue, and feeling strong. One good thing, I still have time to get even stronger and stronger and make sure everything is good.”
Hertl had surgery Feb. 3 to repair a torn ACL he sustained during a game against the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 29 and missed the final 18 games of the season.
This season is targeted to begin Jan. 1.
“I got time to regroup and I don’t have to start early,” Hertl said. “I know if we start in January, I will be ready to go.”
Hertl was tied with Logan Couture for third on San Jose with 16 goals last season and finished sixth with 36 points in 48 games. He has scored 280 points (132 goals, 148 assists) in 453 regular-season games and 42 points (24 goals, 18 assists) in 62 Stanley Cup Playoff games, all with the Sharks.
General manager Doug Wilson said last month that Hertl is among the forwards who need to make up for the departure of longtime San Jose center Joe Thornton, who signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 18 after 15 seasons with the Sharks.
“Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, it’s their time,” Wilson said. “They need to step up to the next level.”