OTTAWA â€” The Ottawa Senators had been searching for months for a forward who could bring “valuable NHL experience” to a team looking to contend for a playoff spot.
General Manager Pierre Dorion says he’s found that in Tommy Wingels.
Ottawa acquired the 28-year-old centre from San Jose on Tuesday afternoon, sending forward Buddy Robinson, forward Zack Stortini and a 2017 seventh-round pick to the Sharks.
“We feel that Tommy brings experience,” Dorion said on a conference call. “He’s someone who was on a team last year that went to the Stanley Cup finals, someone that’s a quality role player, someone who can play on the penalty kill.
“The attributes that we were really interested in from Tommy are someone who has really good speed, he’s tenacious, he gets on the forecheck. … For us, adding a player of Tommy’s calibre is something we’ve been looking to do for a while.”
The need for a forward like Wingels became more pressing last week after the Senators announced that Clarke MacArthur, on the advice of doctors, would not be returning this season.
MacArthur, 31, missed all but four games last year because of a concussion and then suffered another one in training camp this past fall.
“The loss of Clarke MacArthur is big for us. We felt he’s a top-six forward,” Dorion said. “So for us, if we can look to improve we will.
“I like this team, I like this team now with this added player. I like getting a player that’s 28 years old and one we feel is in the prime of his career â€” 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.”
Wingels, who has five goals and three assists in 37 games with the Sharks this season, was selected by San Jose in the sixth round of the 2008 NHL draft. He enjoyed a career best 2013-14 when he had a 38 points and seven game-winning goals and has played in 45 career playoff games.
The six-foot, 200-pound native of Evanston, Ill., has 51 goals and 71 assists over 337 NHL games with the Sharks.
“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.
“But I think 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.”
The Senators say San Jose will retain 30 per cent of Wingels’ 2016-17 salary.
He is expected to travel to Ottawa to join the team on Wednesday.
The Senators, who hosted Washington Tuesday night, opened play in second place in the Atlantic Division with 55 points, two ahead of third-place Toronto and eight behind first-place Montreal.
Robinson, 25, has seven goals and 12 points in 33 American Hockey League games with Binghamton this season. He was held scoreless over four games with Ottawa after being recalled to the club in early December.
Stortini, 31, has two goals and three points while recording 20 penalty minutes in 22 games with Binghamton this season. He has 14 goals and 27 assists over 257 career NHL games with Edmonton and Nashville.
“Giving two guys who had been in our organization for a few years and a pick was a price that needed to be paid for a guy who brings valued NHL experience and someone we know is going to fit in to our culture here,” Dorion said.
The Canadian Press