Tom Wilson‘s bad reputation is a couple years behind the player he has become. Like, he’s good now.
|18.3||time on ice per game|
|50.7||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|50.2||5-on-5 expected goal percentage, adjusted|
|44.6||5-on-5 goal percentage, adjusted|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows lots of information for the player over the season. A short description of each chart:
The story on Tom Wilson two years ago was that he’s a reckless goon who hurts people because he can’t score. But the thing about Wilson is that he’s always changing — he always has ever since that weird rookie year. Wilson’s dropped most of the bad hits out of his game — he’s no longer technically a repeat offender, and he’s become a reliable contributor to Washington’s top-six offense — clocking top-line minutes plus special teams plus an all-situation goal rate above one-per-hour. He’s joined the 20-goal club in two consecutive seasons (shortened for, uh, different reasons). Wilson got in just five fights during the regular season — a career low.
TL;DR: he’s changed.
But not, like, totally. Wilson is still one of the most physical players in league. Below is list of the most hitty forwards in the league ranked the difference in hits given and hits taken per hour.
That’s quite a cohort at the top. Some of those are one-trick ponies who can’t contribute much aside from physicality. Vegas’ Ryan Reaves for instance doesn’t get hit much because he rarely carries the puck. Others are dynamic players who take hits as well as deliver them with a lot of scoring on the side (Ovechkin). Whatever might have been the case years ago, Wilson is now in the latter group. He hits often and hard, but he’s also driving play. And, oh, yeah, he crashes the dang net. Here are his individual shot locations from HockeyViz:
This is a good trajectory for Wilson, and his role on the team is clear. On a team that struggles with speed and defensive coverage, who too often lets other teams dictate the pace of play, and who has trouble getting cozy with the opponent’s net, Tom Wilson delivers that which is so badly needed. I think Laviolette is going to love him.
— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) December 28, 2019
These last two bullets express the duality of Tom Wilson.
Prediction: Tom Wilson hit 30 goals in 2020-21 (or pro-rated over 82 games). Who says no? (Shut up, Pat.)
Read more: Japers Rink
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