Sharks draft Czech center with 1st-round pick

Associated Press Modified: June 22, 2012 at 11:18 pm •  Published: June 22, 2012

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The San Jose Sharks chose center Tomas Hertl of the Czech Republic with the 17th pick in the first round of the NHL draft on Friday night.

Hertl is only the second first-round pick made by the Sharks in the past five drafts. They traded their only other first-rounder, 2010 pick Charlie Coyle, to Minnesota during last year's draft with 2005 first-rounder Devin Setoguchi and a 2011 first-rounder for defenseman Brent Burns.

Hertl, 18, was rated as the fifth-best European skater in the draft by the NHL Central Scouting service. Hertl had 12 goals and 13 assists last season for Slavia Praha in the Czech league, along with a plus-9 rating and 22 penalty minutes. His coach at Slavia Praha was former NHL player Vladimir Ruzicka.

"He has the upside potential to be a centerman that you can use in all situations," Sharks scouting director Tim Burke said. "He will defend, he makes plays, he has long reach, he strips pucks, he's able to play low around the net. There are a lot of good qualities."

Hertl, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, also had three goals and two assists in six games at the World Junior Hockey Championships this year.

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said he looked into trading up at one point and would have traded out of the 17th spot if Hertl had not been available.

"He's a versatile guy," Wilson said. "He's a big body guy who played very well in the World Juniors. He played against men. He can play all forward positions."

The Sharks expect him to remain in the Czech Republic next season, and Burke said he could be ready for the NHL the following year depending on his development and the team's needs.

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