Earlier this month, Tom Wilson expressed his desire to take on a bigger role for the Caps this season after the departure of several key players on the team’s roster. He’s not the only one who thinks he should step up though – Barry Trotz is making clear that Wilson needs to produce more goals for the team.
Trotz expressed this expectation for Wilson when speaking to the media after day three of training camp.
“Just like all our young players, we’ve been trying to continually have growth with Tom,” Trotz said. “The next step in his evolution — he obviously has that physical element, he’s reliable, he can kill penalties, he can play in late-game situations, he’s developed that — now he’s got to find that offensive side. We’ve got to get more production out of Tom Wilson. We’re going to need some more goals out of him. He’s got to get into double digits this year.”
Trotz hopes that increased goal production from Wilson will help to mitigate the loss of high scorers like Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson.
“That’s how you chip away at the losses of a couple guys,” Trotz said. “You give us four or five more goals than you had last year. And if you think about that over 82 games, another four goals over an 82-game span doesn’t seem like that much. I think it’s very attainable. That’s how we’ll chip away. But that’s the evolution for Tom, to have a little more production now. He can be a good offensive guy, because he does a good job defensively.”
Optimism about Wilson’s potential to be a higher goal scorer was renewed in the 2016-17 playoffs, when the Toronto native scored three goals in the first-round series against his hometown team, the Maple Leafs. Those three goals, two of which came in Game Four, helped the Caps eliminate the Leafs before moving on to face the Penguins.
“I’ve had success in short periods of time with them, but in order to be a top-six guy, you need to have that consistency and you need to make sure you’re producing every night,” Wilson said, as reported by The Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan.
Averaging about 12:56 of ice time per game, Wilson has been a beloved but mediocre player for most of his career. While the winger scored a career high seven goals apiece in each of the last two seasons, he is a below average possession player who spends too much time in the penalty box. Wilson showed some improved discipline last year, registering 133 penalty minutes as compared to 163 during the 2015-16 season. But Wilson’s positive penalty differential dropped big time from the year before, finishing with an even rate last season. His biggest value is as a penalty killer.
Wilson has made appearances on the top line numerous times in his four seasons with the Capitals, but none have lasted more than a few weeks. The first-round draft pick is hoping to change that this season, looking to secure himself a consistent role in the top-six.
The top-six unit currently has two openings due to the trading of wingers Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson over the summer. If Wilson continues to play more responsibly and produce the way he did in the playoffs, a spot on one of the team’s scoring lines could help Wilson realize Trotz’s dream of goals, goals, and more goals (unlike Alex Ovechkin, whose goal is not scoring more goals).
Headline photo: Claus Andersen
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