After hunting for another game-ready forward for months, the Ottawa Senators gave up a prospect, Buddy Robinson, a 31-year-old journeyman, Zack Stortini, plus a 2017 seventh-round draft pick Tuesday to scoop Tommy Wingels from the San Jose Sharks.
“I was very excited. I sensed something coming,” Wingels told reporters in Ottawa Wednesday. “When it happens, a slew of emotions go through your head for you and your family.”
Sens fans unaccustomed to staying up late to catch games at the Shark Tank may be asking themselves, “OK, so who is this Wingels character we landed?”
Here’s what we know about Ottawa’s brand-new depth forward, who is ready for Thursday’s game against the slumping Calgary Flames.
The Wingels trade helps fill a need for both teams.
Senators rookie GM Pierre Dorion needed to acquire another forward with news that Clarke MacArthur has been ruled out for the season, and the Sharks needed to clear some salary cap space with top-six forward Tomas Hertl’s imminent return to the lineup from a November knee injury.
“It didn’t come as a complete shock,” Wingels told an Ottawa radio station.
He failed to earn as much ice time under coach Peter DeBoer as he was getting under Todd McLellan.
“Doug Wilson was very upfront and very willing to discuss this with me, and help me find a place with more opportunity.”
Ironically, Wingels is Hertl’s best friend in San Jose. Hence the crying emojis and inside jokes about strawberry shortcake or something:
Tough day!! l’ll miss you my best friend @tommywingels57
I wish all the best.
Fun must be always
Never forget that!
Peas and Carrots!
— Tomáš Hertl (@TomasHertl48) January 24, 2017
Wingels comes with a discount.
San Jose — who now has three seventh-round picks in the upcoming draft — is retaining 30 per cent of Wingels’ $2.6 million salary, a nice $742,500 bonus for small-market Ottawa.
An unrestricted free agent on July 1, Wingels is a low-risk rental for Ottawa, who will have the option of negotiating an extension if they like what they get out of the 28-year-old through the playoff push.
Sharks centre Logan Couture sure will miss the guy.
He already has a close relationship with Senators defenceman Chris Wideman.
Wingels and Wideman went to college together, and they both spend their off-seasons training and golfing in St. Louis, where Wingels and his wife, Molly Meyer, recently moved.
Wingels can read lips. Cool.
He picked the perfect place to score his first NHL goal.
Born in Evanston, Illinois — a suburb 12 miles north of downtown Chicago — Wingels was playing for the NCHC’s Miami (University) Redhawks when he was picked up by the Sharks as the 177th selection of the 2008 draft.
Though he made his NHL debut on Oct. 8, 2010, Wingels waited until Jan. 12, 2012 to score his first big-league goal. He whacked a rebound past Corey Crawford in his hometown of Chicago:
Wingels is good with money.
While scoring 17 goals and 30 points over 69 games with AHL Worcester in 2011, the player also found time to earn his degree in accounting from Miami University.
He stands up for the right thing.
A close friend of Brendan Burke’s, Wingels became a member of the advisory board for You Can Play, the initiative to fight intolerance in the locker room. Wingels’ work with You Can Play resulted in his being nominated for the 2013 King Clancy Memorial Trophy, given to a player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.
“The way he plays the game, as far as his character and work ethic and determination will be the biggest factors in helping our team,” Dorion told reporters Tuesday.
He’s been on the giving end of some nasty hits in his day.
“If the other team’s worried about you, that’s a good thing,” Wingels said. “I just like to play a hard, physical, in-your-face game.”
Before they were both traded to Ottawa, Wingels fought Dion Phaneuf (albeit mildly).
Wingels’ five fights last season were the most in his six NHL seasons. Hockeyfights.com‘s users ruled the Phaneuf bout a draw.
His offence peaked in 2013-14, but his value goes beyond numbers.
Production-wise, Wingels put up his best stats three years ago, when he had 16 goals and 22 assists. Though loved in the room, the emergence of younger Sharks depth forwards had made him expendable.
Still, he’s a determined forechecker who also kills penalties well. Plus, he’s versatile enough to play wing or centre.
“We definitely think that he can bring some offence,” Dorion said. “We know he’s going to play a specific role on this team. I like the way he goes to the net, he gets his goals at the net, so it’s someone we hope can bring that to our team.
“I like getting a player that’s 28 years old and one we feel is in the prime of his career — someone who played 22 of the 24 games that San Jose played in the Cup finals last year, and the type of person we’re trying to get.”