Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing series in which Kevin Kurz will highlight a different Sharks player every day leading up to the start of training camp.
Name/Position: Tommy Wingels, F
2015-16 cap hit/contract: $2.475 million; signed through 2016-17
2014-15 year in review: Wingels finished sixth on the Sharks in scoring with 36 points, including 15 goals in 75 games. His stats were nearly identical to his 2013-14 campaign in which Wingels had 38 points in 77 games.
On the positive side, Wingels continued to use his body as a one-man wrecking crew, delivering 263 hits (ranking him eighth in the NHL). Offensively, though, his production dried up late as he had just four goals in the final 28 games after returning from a hand injury that may have adversely affected his performance.
Wingels didn’t have the benefit of regular linemates, either, as he was shuffled up and down the lineup on what seemed like a nightly basis until late in the year.
2015-16 outlook: Considering how much he hates to be out, it’s likely that Wingels returned a bit early from a broken bone in his hand. Still, the Sharks brass is probably still hopeful that Wingels can contribute a little more on the scoreboard than he did. At 27 years old he’s entering the prime of his career, and he should be able to reach the 20-goal, 50-point plateau if he stays healthy and gets regular power play time.
Although he didn’t score much late in the year, Wingels was part of an effective third line for the final stretch with Chris Tierney and Matt Nieto. Perhaps newcomer Joel Ward could slide into Nieto’s place, forming what could be a very effective checking line with three big bodies. Wingels has played both wings, so he could probably move to the left if necessary while Ward stays on the right.
Off of the ice, Wingels can usually be counted on for an honest assessment of the team, and is clearly developing into one of the Sharks’ leaders and an example for the young players coming up in the system. Considering the Sharks plan on integrating more recent draft picks onto the roster, Wingels can relate to those guys better than some of the older veterans. If you need a model for hard work and dedication to the game, Wingels is the perfect guy to try and emulate.