Chicago Blackhawks’ Tommy Wingels Brings Versatility To Bottom Six
By Mario Tirabassi
Forward Tommy Wingels brings versatility and stability to the Chicago Blackhawks’ bottom six forward group
While the Chicago Blackhawks made headlines this offseason with blockbuster trades, a number of their free agency signings flew under the radar. One of these signings was the one-year, $750K contract given to forward Tommy Wingels. The addition of Wingels, on a very team-friendly deal, could end up being a seemingly small move that could pay-off greatly for Chicago.
Wingels, a former sixth-round pick of the San Jose Sharks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, is another addition to the Blackhawks list of local players to play for the franchise. Hailing from Evanston, IL, Wingels is the type of veteran role player that the Blackhawks needed in their bottom-six forward group to provide a bit of stability to what is otherwise a large question mark for Chicago.
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Wingels joins the likes of Ryan Hartman and Vince Hinostroza as the current Illinois native players on the roster, and could even be paired together this season in a third or fourth-line grouping that should be trademarked as, “The Local Boys Line.”
Just remember where credit is due when that becomes a thing.
The versatility that Wingels brings to the table makes him an underrated and valuable part of the Blackhawks lineup. He can play both at wing and the center position, which is key for Chicago since there are questions and concerns surrounding the third and fourth-line options for center.
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Other than Tanner Kero, there is no clear-cut favorite to be the other bottom-six center on a regular basis. It could be any one of Nick Schmaltz, Laurent Dauphin, Hinostroza, or even a prospect yet to make their mark on the main roster. But plenty of signs point to Wingels getting a shot in any situation.
At six-foot, 200-pounds, Wingels’ game is a high-energy, physical presence, something that the Blackhawks have lacked since losing Andrew Shaw. From 2013-2016, he posted hit totals of 218, 263, and 203 before laying 125 hits for the Sharks and Ottawa Senators last season.
While hits don’t lead to wins directly, having a physical presence like Wingels gives Chicago more dimensions to their team game.
At 29-years old, Wingels’ best hockey is not behind him. Although he has not shown many flashes of his 2013-2015 version of himself, in which he posted 74 points in 152 games with the Sharks, playing in a third-line role, Wingels’ ability and willingness to play an energy role, get to the dirty areas of the ice, and grind-out valuable minutes while still having a skill and scoring touch gives him a leg up on players like Lance Bouma or Jordin Tootoo.
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A change of scenery might be what is best for him, especially if it means playing for his favorite childhood team in front of friends and family for 41 games at the United Center.