Just like San Jose Sharks teammate Logan Couture 12 years ago, Tomas Hertl waited a while for his name to be called during the NHL All-Star Game’s Player Draft on Thursday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
Unlike Couture in 2012, though, Hertl was saved from the awkwardness of having to be the last player chosen amongst a sea of elite players.
The first 10 rounds came and went and only Hertl, Seattle’s Oliver Bjorkstrand, the New York Rangers’ Vincent Trocheck, and Anaheim’s Frank Vatrano were left. Instead of continuing with the draft, the last four players were each given large envelopes by Toronto Maple Leafs legend Dave Keon and were more or less assigned to a team.
Hertl’s envelope said he would be on a team captained by Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid. The group also includes co-captain Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton), David Pastrnak (Boston), Robert Thomas (St. Louis), Boone Jenner (Columbus), Nick Suzuki (Montreal), Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg), Rasmus Dahlin (Buffalo), and Sam Reinhart and Sergei Bobrovsky (Florida). Actor Will Arnett is the team’s celebrity captain.
Each of the four teams has 11 players, including two goalies.
Thursday marked the fourth time, and the first since 2015, that captains picked the teams. In 2012 when the game was in Ottawa, the last two players available out of 38 were Couture and Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars.
Benn was selected by captain Zdeno Chara, and Couture, then just 22, went to Daniel Alfredsson’s team.
For being the last player taken, Couture was given a new car, a Honda Crosstour.
“The car is awesome,” Couture said last month. “My brother drove it for like 10 years. It was great.
“When we got down to the last four of us … I was just hoping to go last to get that car, so it worked out great for me.”
There was no car to be had Thursday for Hertl or anyone else, but the team that wins the 3-on-3 tournament on Saturday will split $1 million.
Team McDavid plays a team captained by Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon on Saturday at noon in the first semifinal of the four-team 3-on-3 tournament. Teams captained by Quinn Hughes and Auston Matthews will play in the other semifinal, and the winners of the semifinals will meet in the final.
“We played together in (my) last all-star game, and we got the win,” Hertl said on social media of being on the Pacific Division team with McDavid in 2020. “Hopefully we can follow that, and I’m excited to be on his team. Should be a fun couple of days.”
Regardless of where he was drafted, Hertl, who was part of the event in 2020 as a replacement for an injured Couture, said being at NHL All-Star weekend was going to be special.
“Even now more than the first time because now I have a family.” said Hertl, who has two young sons, adding that his oldest, 3-year-old Tobias loves hockey.
“It will be something special and hopefully he will remember he (was) a part of this whole thing.”
Hertl is in his 11th NHL season, all with the Sharks. He was unable to play in San Jose’s two most recent games because of a lower-body injury, but Sharks coach David Quinn was optimistic earlier this week that the Czech-born centerman would be ready to play once the schedule resumes with a Feb. 14 game in Winnipeg.
Hertl leads the Sharks with 15 goals and 34 points in 48 games this season.
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Hertl is not taking part in Friday’s skills competition, which was limited to 12 players.
TRANSACTION: Defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin was reassigned to the Barracuda on Thursday and he will be on the Pacific Division’s roster for the AHL All-Star Classic, which begins this weekend at Tech CU Arena in San Jose.
Before his recall by the Sharks last week, Mukhamadullin had 26 points in 39 games for the Barracuda. Among AHL defensemen, Mukhamadullin, listed at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, was tied for sixth with 21 assists and was 10th in points at the time of his recall.
Mukhamadullin, who was born in Ufa, Russia, joins countryman Danil Gushchin as the Barracuda’s representatives at the event. Gushchin, as of earlier this week, was considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury he suffered last Friday in a home game against the Calgary Wranglers, but is still part of the Pacific Division’s roster.
For the season, Gushchin, a third-round pick by the Sharks in 2020 who turns 22 on Feb. 6, leads the Barracuda with 37 points in 39 games.
Mukhamadullin, 22, played three games with the Sharks, and picked up his first career NHL point Wednesday, assisting on Anthony Duclair’s first-period power-play goal. He averaged 21:09 in ice time per game in the three games.