San Jose Sharks: Could Tommy Wingels Be Their Next Breakout Star?

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San Jose Sharks: Could Tommy Wingels Be Their Next Breakout Star?

What do Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Ryane Clowe have in common?

In addition to being a central part of the core of the San Jose Sharks, all three of them were drafted and developed by the team that they play for.

There might be a new addition to that core pretty soon. 

Meet Tommy Wingels, a young forward who notched nine points (three goals and six assists) in 33 games for the Sharks last season. Drafted in the sixth round (177th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Wingels has developed into a skilled young talent.

Tim Burke, the head of scouting for the San Jose Sharks, called him a "competitor," and Wingels has proven him correct.

He may be small for an NHL player (6'0", 190 pounds), but the energy and hustle that he brings makes up for it.

Wingels does the little things on the ice that rarely show up on the stat sheet. Winning a battle on the boards, reaching in with the stick to deflect a pass away or clearing the puck when his team needs a line change are just a few examples. 

Actually, there is a stat that shows exactly what Wingels brings to the Sharks. It is a virtually unknown statistic called the "Corsi rating."

Kent Wilson of the Calgary Herald explains via the Edmonton Journal:

"Corsi is a 'puck possession' stat in that it acts as a proxy for zone time. If a player has a higher Corsi rating, it means his team is getting more shots at the opposing net while he is on the ice and therefore the puck is spending more time in his team’s possession at the offensive end of the rink. On the other hand, a player with a negative Corsi is seeing more rubber flying at his net and is therefore spending more time defending. As a result, dominant players (and teams) tend to have higher Corsi ratings and vice versa. Some of the best players in the league by this metric since it started being tracked include Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Ovechkin and Ryan Kesler."

I'm going to nickname this a "Wingels goal". He wins the battle on the boards, gets to the front of the net, and puts in the rebound.

So, say the Sharks were playing the Anaheim Ducks. If the Sharks had 40 shots and the Ducks had 25 shots, San Jose would have a Corsi rating of plus-15. Same goes for individual players; it is the difference in shots on goal during the period that the individual player is on the ice.

Tommy Wingels' Corsi rating is a plus-12.5, which is second-best among the Sharks' forwards. That means that the Sharks are averaging 12.5 more shots than their opponents whenever Wingels is on the ice.

But there's more to it. Like Kent Wilson explained, Corsi rating directly corresponds to puck possession and zone time. The more shots on net, the more time is spent in the opponent's defensive end. That prove that whenever Wingels is on the ice, there is a good chance that the Sharks are in the attacking zone and getting quality scoring chances.

That's what Wingels brings to this team. Because he creates so many shots when on the ice, he can create instant chemistry with anybody. Wingels played on the first, second and fourth lines during his 33 games with the Sharks. Towards the end of the season, he was a fixture on the fourth line with Andrew Desjardins and Daniel Winnik, and that was one of the Sharks' most consistent and hard-working groups during the playoffs.

Despite having limited NHL experience, Tommy Wingels has already shown what he is capable of doing on the ice. He is currently a restricted free agent, but according to USA Today, it is almost a guarantee that he will return to the Sharks next season. Look for Wingels to be a consistent contributor for the Sharks next season, and eventually develop into the breakout star player that the Sharks were hoping for when they drafted him. 

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