Editor's Note: We kick off our yearly "player grades" with Tom Wandell, as we transition from "grading" the player on a scale and instead taking a broader look at the season as a whole for each individual.
Tom Wandell has been Dallas Stars property since he was drafted in the 5th round of the 2005 draft. There have been some good times and some bad. In his 229 games with the Stars, he has 20 goals and 23 assists. To say that he has been offensively challenged would be a mild understatement. This is a reasonable approximation of Wandell with the puck on his stick:
Wandell has been snake bitten during his tenure, and that trend continued in his 18 games this season with the big club. Wandell scored one goal on 14 shots despite looking better than at just about any other time in his career. Any hopes that Wandell would ever develop offensively all but went out the window with his less than impressive AHL performance. In 11 AHL games Wandell picked up four assists while taking 25 shots.
Wandell has been on the bad end of an ice time trend since he hit a high water mark of 13:52 per game in 2010 at 23 years old. In 2013 averaged 8:27 per night, virtually all of it at even strength. For every 60 minutes of game time Wandell picked up 10 seconds on the power play and 34 seconds on the penalty kill.
The main attribute Wandell brings to the table is his speed. For a team looking to add speed to their bottom six Wandell could be an interesting low cost option. The Stars, however, have plenty of young fast guys who will make less in 2014 than Wandell would. The fact that Wandell has little to offer the Stars on the ice other than speed is ultimately why he hasn't really been in the Stars plans the past few years.
NHL clubs need fourth liners to bring some useful skill to he table. That likely isn't going to be an offensive attribute because if they had offensive ability they would likely be further up the lineup. Fourth liners generally have some forechecking ability. Some are good on the draw. Others can play tough defense. Some even have a mix of these skills if they're skating on a really deep team.
Wandell has speed, but the extra skills that help a depth player build a career are lacking. Given this team's weakness at taking faceoffs he probably could have bought himself another season or two by being successful on the draw. Unfortunately for Tom he won 41.4% of the faceoffs he took this year. It's probably best for his career that he moves on.
There is one .gif, and one .gif only, that can describe the tenure of Wandell as a Dallas Star. It's a magical image that starts off with little happening, much like you would expect from a 5th round pick. Something happens in the middle, and you're mildly amused. But oh the end...the end makes us all reminisce with happiness, some tears, and maybe even a little fond recollection.
I present to you Tom Wandell, Dallas Star, in a nutshell:
What say you?