Tomas Hertl traded to Vegas Golden Knights by San Jose Sharkss

In a jaw-dropping move just before the NHL trade deadline buzzer, the Vegas Golden Knights acquired star center Tomas Hertl from the San Jose Sharks.

The defending Stanley Cup champions sent a 2025 first-round pick, prospect David Edstrom, and third-round picks in 2025 and 2027 to their division rival in exchange for Hertl and salary retention.

The Sharks are retaining 17% of Hertl’s $8.137 million cap hit, leaving Vegas with an annual charge of $6.75 million through the 2029-30 season. The 30-year-old Czech native has six years remaining on the eight-year, $65.1 million contract he signed with San Jose in March 2022.

Hertl, a two-time All-Star, has recorded 15 goals and 34 points in 48 games this season for the struggling Sharks. He is currently sidelined after undergoing surgery on February 12 to clean out loose cartilage in his left knee, but is expected to return in time for the playoffs.

The acquisition gives the Golden Knights incredible depth down the middle, with Hertl joining Jack Eichel, Chandler Stephenson and William Karlsson. His playmaking abilities, two-way game and versatility make him a dangerous weapon for head coach Bruce Cassidy to deploy.

However, the timing of the trade has raised some eyebrows around the league. The Golden Knights’ use of long-term injured reserve, especially with captain Mark Stone, has allowed them to exceed the salary cap. If Stone and other injured players return for the playoffs when there is no cap, Vegas could ice a roster millions over the limit.

This loophole, recognized by Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland when the cap was implemented, has created controversy. NHL insider Elliotte Friedman warned it could impact the competitive integrity of the postseason. Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon has disputed any doubts about the severity of player injuries amid the LTIR controversy.

For the Sharks, moving Hertl jumpstarts their rebuild while clearing some much-needed cap space, although retaining salary limits their flexibility. San Jose GM Mike Grier netted a first-round pick and a quality prospect in Edstrom, who was drafted 32nd overall by Vegas in 2023.

The Hertl blockbuster capped off a series of huge deadline additions by the Golden Knights, who also landed top defenseman Noah Hanifin and winger Anthony Mantha. As they gear up to defend their title, Vegas has undoubtedly emerged as a leading Stanley Cup favorite in a competitive Western Conference.