This offseason has been full of surprises and heartache for Chicago Blackhawks fans. With all of the new faces on the team, fans may be wondering: Who is Tommy Wingels and how can he help the Blackhawks?
Evanston native Tommy Wingels was selected 177th overall by the San Jose Sharks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, after playing his college hockey at Miami (Ohio) University. Now, he’s returning home as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.
His first two seasons were split between the NHL and AHL, limiting him to just nine points in 38 NHL games. Ironically, he scored his first NHL goal against the Blackhawks at the United Center on January 15, 2012.
After a few seasons of easing into the NHL, Wingels finally broke out in 2013-14 when he scored 16 goals and 38 points in 77 games. He also didn’t shy away from being physical, recording 218 hits.
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The Sharks made it to the 2014 playoffs that year, and Wingels played in all seven games while contributing three assists. He followed up that year with a 36-point season, including 263 hits in 75 games.
The next year, Wingels’ production dropped to just seven goals and 18 points in 68 games, although he did manage to stay a physical presence for the Sharks by posting 203 hits.
Wingels split the ‘16-’17 season between the Sharks and Ottawa Senators by way of a midseason trade, totaling a modest 12 points and 125 hits in 73 games.
While he showed some playmaking ability in the past, Wingels’ true strength is his physical play. Wingels has shown the ability to win board battles and score from the dirty areas on the ice.
Furthermore, he has shown he can step up and contribute when it matters most. In the ‘15-’16 playoffs, Wingels had 80 hits, which was fourth most in the NHL for any player that postseason. The Blackhawks definitely could have used Wingels’ physicality last year in their first-round series against Nashville.
During his offseason training this year, after signing as a free agent in Chicago, Wingels fractured his left foot. Luckily, his timetable for return should put him back just in time for training camp.
If Wingels can stay healthy and on the ice, he will bring a mix of speed, grit and physicality to the Blackhawks, which they are definitely in need of. On a modest one-year contract at $750,000, Wingels could be a good gamble for the ‘Hawks, as he can help fill the void on the penalty kill left by the former Blackhawk Marcus Kruger.
It sounds like Wingels is hyped up to play for his hometown team, and I am equally as excited to see what he can do.