SAN JOSE, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: Tommy Wingels #57 and Harri Sateri #35 of the San Jose Sharks celebrate defeating the Phoenix Coyotes 1 to 0 in a NHL pre-season game at HP Pavilion on September 24, 2011 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Doug Wilson and Todd McLellan have been adamant this offseason that young players looking for a spot on the team have a shot. While that's been mostly lip service in offseasons past, it really does seem like that's the case this year. We've commented on young players like Cam MacIntyre and Benn Ferriero and more established forwards like Andrew Desjardins and Jamie McGinn. As of this morning, though, it looks like one player who flew under our radar may end up getting the longest look from the coaching staff.
Tommy Wingels captured attention in pretty dramatic fashion Sunday, scoring two goals against a Vancouver team that knocked San Jose out of playoff contention last year. Although the rosters were different last night than when the teams met in the Western Conference Finals (Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault has held his regular players out to this point of the preseason), Wingels' performance thus far has definitely catapulted him into the conversation for a lower line spot.
In total, Wingels has scored three goals this preseason, good for a six-way tie for first amongst all NHL players. The scoring has helped him to stand out, and even though one goal was scored off a fortuitous bounce last night, Wingels was in the right place at the right time; that positioning wasn't a mistake and it's something that McLellan and his staff pay attention to in the preseason.
Wingels got a sniff of NHL action last year when injuries opened up a spot on the fourth line. In five NHL games, Wingels had one shot and was -1 in limited ice time before being sent back to Worcester. Far from impressive in that stretch, Wingels has done what he can to supplant that memory in the coaches' minds with a stellar preseason performance to date.
We get a feeling that more roster cuts will be coming in the next few days, but as of this moment, we're pretty confident that Wingels will stick around through the preseason. If he continues to score, he might just stick in San Jose longer than that.