After being predominantly a fourth line physical presence through the first three years of his career, Washington right winger Tom Wilson is looking to redefine himself as more of an all-around player, writes Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post. The Capitals made Wilson their first round pick (16th overall) back in 2012 but he has primarily been known for his hitting and fighting and not the scorer he was back in junior where he had 91 points in 125 OHL games with Plymouth.
Considering the role he had as a junior-aged rookie (he had more fights than points by a 14-10 margin), some members of Washington’s front office have expressed some regret in rushing him to the NHL as an energy player instead of allowing him to hone his all-around game at the junior level.
Wilson is hardly the first high draft pick to start out as a fourth line tough guy and then develop more of an offensive game over the years as both Milan Lucic and Wayne Simmonds have had career paths like that. As Wilson does that, he is passing up on more opportunities to fight (his fight totals have dropped each year) and in turn, he is spending a lot less time on the penalty box. He’s on pace for 82 PIMS this season and while that total may seem high, his career low in that regard is 151 which came in his rookie year.
Head coach Barry Trotz hasn’t hesitated to trust Wilson more this season as he is averaging over 13 minutes of playing time per game (a career high) while he also is playing a regular role on the penalty kill. While that hasn’t translated into offensive success just yet as he has just a single goal in 21 games, the fact that he is playing a bigger role should pay dividends down the road even if the production isn’t there yet.
More from the Metropolitan Division:
- The Flyers appear to be moving Nick Cousins back to the left wing, notes Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Cousins has played the last four games down the middle but has struggled at the faceoff dot, winning just 13 of 53 draws, a success rate of just 24.5%. Brayden Schenn, a natural center but a player who has spent most of his career on the left side, will move back to the middle and play on the second line. Sean Couturier, Philadelphia’s regular second line pivot, is out for another three-to-five weeks with a sprained MCL.
- Teuvo Teravainen is getting the first shot at replacing Jordan Staal (concussion) as Carolina’s top line center but as Michael Smith of the Hurricanes’ website reports in a reader mailbag, the team envisions him the 22 year old Finnish forward at that position long-term. Head coach Bill Peters likes his two-way game and feels that will allow him to play down the middle successfully: “He’s very good defensively, and that’s what allows him to play center and have the coach’s trust, so I can play him against anybody. … He’s a playmaking center. We’re excited about seeing him there for the foreseeable future.” Teravainen is in his fourth NHL season but short of a small stint at center last year with Chicago, he has spent the bulk of his career on the left wing. He’s off to a decent start this season with five goals and five assists through 22 games while averaging a career high in ice time per game at 15:37.