Thanks to the announcement prospective top-six forward in Clarke MacArthur would miss the remainder of the season with a concussion, speculation as to how the Senators would fill that void led to wondering about whether the team would attempt to bring in a top-six forward or find a depth forward.
The answer came yesterday afternoon when the Senators announced that the organization had acquired centre/winger Tommy Wingels from the San Jose Sharks for Buddy Robinson, Zack Stortini and a seventh round pick.
Wingels is in the last year of a three-year contract that carries an average annual value of $2.475-million, but he’ll be paid $2.6-million in real salary this season. To help the Senators absorb that money, as part of the trade, San Jose agreed to retain 30-percent of Wingels’ salary. In other words, the Senators are on the hook for 70-percent of Wingels’ prorated salary. Full contract details can be found over at CapFriendly.com.
The 28-year old Wingels had a modest five goals and eight points in 37 games while averaging 10:03 of ice time per game this season, but he has posted double-digit goal totals before. In the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, he tallied 16 and 15 goals respectively before his production waned in recent years.
Why the spike in production during those years?
In 2013-14, his most common linemate was Patrick Marleau, who had 33 goals and 70 points. The following season, he played alongside Marleau and Logan Couture. Not surprisingly, during these two years, Wingels’ production took a nosedive when he played away from these two offensive catalysts in the same way Zack Smith’s play suffers when he’s removed from Mark Stone’s line.
Looking at Wingels’ underlying numbers, there’s much left to be desired.
The possession numbers are consistently sub-50 on what’s been a good Sharks team. The relative Corsi numbers are worse, although that’s to be expected when you’re a depth player on a good team. Despite the modest point production, even that may be inflated somewhat because his individual shooting percentage this season is at a career high.
And even with the Sharks picking up a chunk of the tab on Wingels, it’s not like he’s that cheap either – which helps explain why the Sharks were so eager to dump him. With their budget pressed near the top of the salary cap ceiling coupled with the return to health of players like Tomas Hertl, they had to trim the fat.
As an impending UFA, maybe the Senators look at Wingels’ baseline production and see a guy who’s put up some decent offensive numbers playing alongside some skilled players. Barring an injury or two, the opportunity to play with skilled guys probably won’t exist, but maybe they look at him favorably and see a player who can not only move up and down the lineup, but can also play multiple positions.
It’s probably not a stretch to believe that better or cheaper alternatives exist, but maybe the Senators can catch lightning in the bottle here and hope he chips in offensively while playing bottom-six minutes. Moreover, it’s not like Ottawa’s fourth line is bringing much to the table either. Wingels should be an improvement over a player like Curtis Lazar, but for that matter, almost anyone else would be an improvement too because the bar has been set so low.
Even if I don’t like the inclusion of another draft pick (I know, I know, it is just a seventh-rounder after all), it’s not like it’s a significantly valuable asset. Buddy Robinson and Zack Stortini will never be mistaken as players of consequence either, but given what’s hit the waiver wire this season, Ottawa probably could have found a comparable replacement level player without having to give anything up in return.