For scouts who caught Tomas Hertl at the World Junior Championship, they had to be impressed by what he brought to the Czech Republic lineup that played with a ton of emotion, passion and pugnacity.
In fact, the 18-year-old embodied all three of those traits while scoring three goals and five points in six tournament games en route to being named a Top-3 player on his team. The six-foot, 187-pound centre is very strong on the puck, has good wheels, excellent vision and hockey sense, is very energetic and works very hard each shift and has a decent set of hands to boot.
Hertl has been outstanding in the Czech league thus far playing against men, with nine goals and 18 points in 27 games for his Slavia Praha club after amassing 41 points on 14 goals and 27 assists in 33 games for their U20 squad last season.
I had the pleasure of catching up with the ultra-skilled Czech forward, for a quick Q and A.
Who has been your biggest help and influence in developing your game so far?
Tomáš: The biggest influence on me were certainly my parents who have supported me all the way through my hockey career, as well as my agent and personal coach.
You are such an exceptional talent, what do you see being your best attributes as a hockey player?
Tomáš: I think my technique, foresight and thinking, keeping the puck and my ability to dish the puck to my teammates.
Is there an NHLer you style your game after?
Tomáš: If I had to pick, I guess I would have to say Evgeni Malkin.
What is the highlight of your career so far?
Tomáš: So far it is being able to play in the top Czech league against men with HC Slavia Prague, and winning the Czech U18 Championship in 2009/10.
You’ve racked up a ton of goals with your club teams in Slavia Praha, and while playing for the Czech’s internationally, do you have one that stands out as your biggest?
Tomáš: For me every goal I have scored is important for my hlavneě team, but I think that the best goal I’ve scored was at this year’s World Junior Championships against the U.S.
You are playing in the top Czech League this season amongst men, and played 1 game there last season. What do you remember most from your first game in the league?
Tomáš: So much, I remember the atmosphere and how great it was, and the best thing of all was my brother playing on the same line. It was the first time we ever played together.
In your opinion, who is the best player you have ever played with and against?
Tomáš: The best player I played with is my role model Evgeni Malkin, and the best player I played against is Martin Straka.
With 2012 being your NHL draft year, have you felt any added pressure to perform this season?
Tomáš: No extra pressure, I’m just happy I’m in the draft discussion, otherwise I would have been very disappointed.
I know it is a huge honor to be selected, but if you could pick the NHL team that drafts you, who would you choose?
Tomáš: From childhood my favorite team is the Pittsburgh Penguins. But, I will be glad to just be in the NHL someday, and I will play my best for whomever selects me.
What is the first thing you’d buy after signing your first pro contract?
Tomáš: So far I have not thought beyond the draft, because to sign with a team is still far way, but I definitely would like a new car.
What should scouts like about Tomáš Hertl the person?
Tomáš: I am very ambitious and I will never give up.