SAN JOSE When Marty Havlat sustained a partially torn hamstring in late December, shelving the winger for six-to-eight weeks, it vacated a place on the Sharks roster. Benn Ferriero and Tommy Wingels, the best forwards on the teams AHL affiliate in Worcester, were the two most logical choices for general manager Doug Wilson.
The first thing I thought was, I felt bad for Marty, Wingels said on Friday. Hes worked hard and its unfortunate to see someone go down. At the same time, thats why we have that team down there. Its a bunch of guys who are ready to step in if their name is called.
Wilson went with Ferriero, recalling the Boston native on December 20. But with some recent Sharks forwards struggling, Wingels joined his friend on Thursday with the big club.
Its Wingels second stint with San Jose, after he made the opening night roster and played in three of the team's first four games while Havlat was recovering from shoulder surgery.
He was reassigned on Oct. 22, though, trading places with defenseman Justin Braun at the time.
We wanted Tommy to go down and work on his game, play a lot of minutes, and not be up here and get fewer minutes, Todd McLellan said. Hes done that. Hes gone there for the first 25 or 30 games of the season, become one of the top players on their team and one of the better forwards in the American League. Now, its his reward to be up here.
Wingels, who leads Worcester with 13 goals, said: When you get sent down you have to focus on what gets you back up there. That gave me the opportunity to do that.
Theres another reason Wingels is here, though. McLellan has not been overly pleased with all of his forwards, mentioning as much after the 3-1 win in Anaheim on Wednesday. While Wingels played against the Blue Jackets alongside Michal Handzus and Andrew Murray on Thursday night, a healthy Torrey Mitchell was a spectator.
It gives us an opportunity to push some others here and let them know that if theyre not playing well or not producing, we have assets down there were prepared to use, said McLellan.
Mitchell who has three goals and four assists in 33 games, including just one assist in his last 11, and was asked if hes satisfied with his season so far.
Nope, Im not. I wish I had a few more points offensively and I wish I had a little more impact on some games, but the only thing I can do right now is keep working hard, he said.
As for what hes working on to get back into the lineup, Mitchell said: Not anything specific, just maybe try to be a little more creative in the offensive zone and be a little harder on pucks.
When Mitchell returns to the lineup is anyones guess, as McLellan seemed pleased with Wingels performance in the 2-1 Sharks win over Columbus.
He gave us good minutes, created some stuff on the forecheck, was responsible defensively, McLellan said. Its sometimes hard to play that first game coming back, just to fit in again. Im sure he felt good about it.