The San Jose Sharks star, who suffered a knee injury in December on a hit from Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown, is expected to be back in the lineup for the team’s first playoff game against the Kings next week, a source told CSN Bay Area on Thursday.
Brown’s hit on Hertl forced the Sharks rookie to undergo knee surgery, causing him to miss several months of action and sit out the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where he was expected to be a key player for the Czech Republic.
The 20-year-old phenom was instrumental to the Sharks’ success in the first half of the season. At the time of his injury, Hertl led all NHL rookies with 15 goals and 25 points as San Jose stood near the top of the Western Conference standings with a 22-8-6 record.
The Sharks have managed just fine in Hertl’s absence, churning to a 49-22-9 record and finishing second in the Pacific Division.
Still, Hertl’s goal-scoring capabilities would provide a welcome boost in an opening-round series against the stingy Kings. Led by stud goaltender Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles has allowed just 2.04 goals per game this season, tops in the NHL.