SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – The San Jose Sharks agreed Wednesday on an eight-year contract extension with Tomas Hertl, locking up their star center for the long term instead of dealing him away at the trade deadline.

The Sharks had been committed to trying to keep Hertl but wanted to get the extension in place before Monday’s trade deadline. Hertl was in the final year of a $22.5 million, four-year contract and could have been an unrestricted free agent this summer without an extension.

READ MORE: Fatal Crash Blocks Lanes Of Highway 50 In West Sacramento

The new deal will pay the 28-year-old Hertl an average of $8 million a season, according to Sportsnet, and keep him under contract through the 2029-30 season.

The terms of the deal are almost identical to the one captain Logan Couture signed with San Jose in 2018.

“Tomas has evolved into a premier top-line centerman in the league, competing against the NHL’s best players every single night and delivering significant results,” assistant general manager Joe Will said. “There are few centermen in the NHL with his combination of physical and dynamic play and he is a player that you build a franchise around. We are fortunate to have two of the league’s top centermen on one team with Tomas and Logan Couture.”

The Sharks entered the day in 13th place in the Western Conference and are in danger of missing the playoffs for a third straight season for the first time in franchise history.

READ MORE: Indoor Masks May Soon Be Mandatory Again At Sacramento Schools

But they still made the decision to build around Hertl rather than try to deal him away for draft picks or prospects.

Hertl is tied for the team lead this season with 25 goals and is second on the team with 48 points, while often matching up with the opponent’s top line.

Hertl ranks seventh in Sharks history in points (371), sixth in goals (176) and 11th in assists (195).

He also has 24 goals and 18 assists in 62 career playoff games.

MORE NEWS: Getting Answers: How Do You Talk To Kids About Tragedies Like The Texas School Shooting?

___