San Jose Sharks Could Trade Tommy Wingels For Cap Space

San Jose Sharks F Tommy Wingels (57) checks Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby (87) John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports.
San Jose Sharks F Tommy Wingels (57) checks Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby (87) John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports. /

With the San Jose Sharks tight under the cap with the remaining need at backup goalie, Tommy Wingels is one of the few movable cap-relief assets…

D. . Forward. 68 GP, 7 G, 11 A; Playoffs: 22 GP, 2 G, 0 A. TOMMY WINGELS

Two summers ago, the San Jose Sharks signed restricted free agent (RFA) forward Tommy Wingels to what seemed a good deal: $7,425,000 over three seasons. He was coming off a 16-goal, 22-assist 2013-14 NHL season as a checking forward.

About to enter the last year of that deal, Wingels is coming off just seven goals and 11 assists in 68 games. He even became the dreaded healthy scratch in two Stanley Cup playoff games prior to a Matt Nieto injury.

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The fact is, he has never been any more than a fourth-line forward in the postseason. He is not a big scorer in the regular season (114 points in 300 career games), but he often has nothing left by the postseason—just two goals and six assists in 45 games.

That is because of what Wingels does do well—hit. He is San Jose’s running four-time hits leader (203 for the 2015-16 NHL season) and finished first in hits per game the year before. This helps him consistently rank among the best at drawing penalties—a tremendous asset on a team with such a potent power play—and has the ability to drop the gloves.

San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks have relied on Tommy Wingels (57) for the physical play that has defined his career. Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports /

Beyond that, Wingels is an above-average skater with a solid defensive game. He had 54 blocks and 21 takeaways in the regular season and added 11 and seven respectively in the playoffs.

Overall, he was enough of an asset to finish eighth among forwards both in total minutes (927:10) and average ice time (13:38/game). Still, the Sharks could get his kind of production from a bargain unrestricted free agent (UFA).

San Jose may need to because General Fanager shows just over $1.7 million in cap room after signing Dylan DeMelo to a two-year, $1.3 million contract Monday. That includes one more defenseman than will probably be on the final roster but no backup goalie and only 12 forwards including reserve Micheal Haley.

In all likelihood, Barclay Goodrow would be called up and Mirco Mueller sent down. Even if RFA Matt Nieto did not return and the Sharks got a cheap UFA reserve for the press box, that would leave no more than about $1.3 million for a backup goalie and one more forward.

In all likelihood, San Jose will spend more on either the forward they sign or promote to the NHL roster. Either way, there is barely enough to call someone up—a risky option for the backup NHL role. Replacing Wingels with someone cheaper should provide enough room to sign the best backup available, Jhonas Enroth.

Therefore whatever Wingels fetches in a trade, the freed-up space makes it worthwhile. Finding a team willing to give a mid-round pick is within reach since he is a trustworthy defender that gets along with teammates, willing to sacrifice his body and is still just 28 years old.