Tommy Wingels, in a breakout season, played in 77 games and scored 16 goals to go along with 22 assists. He was held off the goals column during the playoffs, but did have three assists in seven games.
In a season that ended so poorly, Wingels is one of the few bright spots of the San Jose Sharks to actually look forward to.
The 2013-2014 season was Wingels’ first as a regular starting player for the Sharks. He had spent parts of the the last three seasons with the Sharks but didn’t make a major impact. Drafted by the Sharks in sixth round in 2008, Wingels worked his way up, from college to Worcester to San Jose.
Now, the 26-year-old native of Evanston, Illinois, is considered one of the focal points of the Sharks’ future. Although he was penciled in as a winger on the third line, Wingels found himself playing on the second line often, and he held his own with a career-high 16 goals.
Wingels also provides more than just scoring punch. Back in 2012, I wrote a piece for Bleacher Report pointing out Wingels’ high Corsi-rating, which is a measure of puck possession. He ranked second on the team in Corsi that season, albeit playing in a limited amount of games. But this year, with a larger sample size, Wingels still finished fifth among forwards and eighth overall on the team in Corsi, ahead of even Joe Thornton. He also ranked fifth on the team in shots on goal with 163. Both of these stats show that when Wingels is on the ice, the puck is usually on the stick of a Shark, and the ability to possess the puck and control the flow of the game is an extremely important asset.
In that piece two years ago, I wondered if Wingels could be the Sharks’ next breakout star, similar to players such as Joe Pavleski and Ryane Clowe, who were both drafted and developed by the Sharks.
If last season was any indication, I’d say the Sharks have found a budding talent in Tommy Wingels.
It’s hard to find any criticism for a player who just had his coming-out party last season, surpassing expectations.
He did have a goalless drought at one point in the season, scoring one goal in 23 games in a span of games from January to February. But with every young player — and in reality, all players — there will be inconsistencies.
Wingels may have had a quality season, but with the future of the Sharks in limbo, he is going to be expected to repeat, if not exceed this year’s production in coming seasons. The Sharks are counting on players such as Wingels to take over the torch from the likes of Thornton and Patrick Marleau, who may not even be back with the team next season.
For Wingels, a steady improvement next season would do wonders for the Sharks, as they look once again to put together the pieces of the puzzle and forget about the disappointment that was the 2014 playoffs.
Wingels is not a flashy player, per se, but this OT winner against the Stars back in February was pretty: