Photo credit: Geoff Burke
I’ve been watching Tom Wilson like a hawk since September 29th, when Mathieu Perreault was traded Anaheim reportedly to make room for Wilson. A large, physical, highly rated prospect, Wilson carried with him all the risks associated with large, physical prospects who are highly rated– namely, that they might be over-rated. But while no one except Tom’s financial planner is going to say this year was a success, I’m hesitant to say it tells us anything about Tom’s future.
|7.8||Average time on ice per game|
|45.0%||Shot attempt percentage during 5v5|
|51.5%||Goal percentage during 5v5|
|7.1%||On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5|
|94.8%||On-ice saving percentage during 5v5|
First things first: it was unwise– as we knew at the time— to trade Perreault to make space for Wilson. Perreault is a cheap utility player with flashes of greatness, a boon on any roster. The supposed risk of Wilson picking up “bad habits” had he stayed in Plymouth seems ridiculous now considering how dimwitted his deployment and tactical instruction was this season.
I’ve gone into great depth about this multiple times over the season, so here’s the quickest of quick recaps: Tom Wilson was given very little ice time, astonishingly weak linemates, and incentives to facepunch instead of playing actual hockey. If you were devising an evil scheme to ruin a talented young hockey player, you would do all of this and then you’d probably sweep the leg.
To my untrained eyes Wilson has unusually strong skating ability for a young player the size of a Chevy Tahoe and underrated stick skill. Yet Oates had him chasing pucks and cycling in futility for all of 7 or 8 shifts a night. Wilson got virtually no power play ice time (despite scoring his first NHL goal on the PP– though Ovi kinda banked it off him) and basically never cracked the top six.
The good news is that Wilson’s line didn’t get outscored despite getting monstrously outpossessed– thanks mostly to some absurdly good goaltending by the Caps netminders.
George McPhee did poorly in managing Wilson and Adam Oates did an atrocious job in coaching him, but I’m filled with strangely warm thoughts about the future. It was Wilson himself who chose to scale back on fighting late in the season. And when Wilson played away from some of the more troubled forwards (like Volpatti, with whom Wilson earned just 28.6 percent of 5v5 shot attempts), he did just fine. He didn’t drive possession by any means though.
I don’t know if Wilson is gonna be a good NHL player. Neither do you. But I do know that he has made it through as rough of a rookie season as most players will ever see, and he did it pretty darn well all things considered. Let’s see what happens in 2014-15, when Wilson will find out for the first time what it’s like to be coached by someone who isn’t incompetent.
And his first assist was somewhat jokes. Urbom scored this, so wrap your head around that.
This is less cute and somewhat more dear god someone stop this before Marino sues
Wilson did nothing on this play, but it looks ridiculous so enjoy! (p.s. Erat = jokes)
Tom was the subject of our very first segment on CRL. He was a good sport. I still think Ian let him win.
I wanna revisit the question I posed in that video back in October: do you think Tom Wilson is a possible power forward, a face-punchin’ sideshow, or something else all together? Did we learn anything about him this season? And where do you wanna see him in the lineup next season?
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