Editor's note: This article is the final part of a series in which Insider Kevin Kurz highlights a different Sharks player every day leading up to the start of NHL training camp
Name/Position: Tommy Wingels, forward
Salary: $2.35 million
Contract status: Signed through 2016-17 ($2.475 cap hit)
2013-14 year in review: Tommy Wingels had the best season of his career, posting 16 goals and 38 points in 77 games to place sixth on the team in scoring. He led the Sharks in hits for the second straight season with 218 (Brent Burns was a distant second with 145), placing him 19th in the league, which is impressive considering how often his team had the puck.
After the Sharks were knocked from the playoffs, Wingels played for Team USA in the World Championships, where he was scoreless in seven games.
The rugged forward was rewarded with a three-year, $7.4 million contract extension in the offseason.
2014-15 outlook: Although he might not be as prominent a name as Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski or Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Tommy Wingels should be considered a part of the Sharks’ young core group that management hopes will lead the team in the coming years. He may not have the skill level as those three, but his attitude, passion and work ethic make him a prime candidate for a leadership role at some point down the line.
On the ice, the 26-year-old could very well get a chance in a top six position, perhaps as a replacement for Brent Burns on the right side of Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl. The Thornton-Burns-Hertl trio had the ability to take over games before Hertl was injured, and Wingels could be the guy whose job it is to get in on the forecheck use his thick frame to wear down opponents.
The biggest issue regarding Wingels is that he seemed to wear down late last season due to his forceful style of play. The Illinois native went 10 scoreless games during a stretch in March, and had just one goal in the final 23 regular season and playoff games. On a conference call with the media in July shortly after his new contract was announced, Wingels mentioned he’d like to get stronger in order to “maintain that physical style throughout a whole season.”
If he can do that – and avoid getting another one of those “upper body injuries” that he’s been prone too since entering the NHL -- Wingels could very well break the 20-goal, 50-point plateau for the first time.