According to LA Kings blogger John Hoven and The Fourth Period’s Dennis Bernstein, the Los Angeles Kings are interested in Caps forward Tom Wilson. The Kings, according to Hoven, have “allegedly kicked the tires” on Wilson, which could be mean anything.
Wilson, 29, is about to enter the final year of his six-year contract. He underwent ACL surgery last summer.
In a podcast released Sunday, Hoven and Bernstein claim to have heard that the Kings are interested in Wilson. The exchange occurs an hour and 54 minutes into the two-hour podcast.
Hoven: If you’re gonna add some sandpaper — I’m going to throw something at you crazy, Dennis. I heard it this week from a fairly reliable source, and it was intriguing. I don’t know how it plays out, but the Kings have allegedly kicked the tires on Tom Wilson. I don’t know how you make that trade work but that is very intriguing and very interesting.
Bernstein: I heard the same, John. [. . .] I absolutely heard the same. [. . .] I’ve heard likewise on Tom Wilson.
It is not clear if “kicking the tires” means the Kings have contacted the Capitals or have even given serious consideration to a trade.
There is no suggestion that Washington is interested in trading Wilson. By all accounts, he is universally liked among Washington’s decision-makers and remains in the team’s long-term plans. While the team is experiencing instability with most of its top-six forwards (Kuznetsov, Backstrom, Oshie, and Mantha), they may not be eager to compound matters trading away their presumptive top-line right wing.
Wilson was playing the best hockey of his career in the season leading up to his ACL injury. He scored 24 goals and added 28 assists in 2021-22 before getting hurt in the first period of the first game of Washington’s playoff series against the Florida Panthers. Wilson underwent surgery that summer and returned to play on January 8, 2023. He scored 13 goals in 33 games, but the team was outscored 28 to 20 during his shifts, worse than any forward except Nicklas Backstrom (minus-13).
The visualization below from Evolving Hockey shows Wilson’s progression from a good player to a great one before the knee surgery that cost him half of the 2022-23 season.
Each colored dot represents one season of Wilson’s career. The higher the dot is, the more standings points Wilson contributed compared to a replacement-level player. The smaller gray dots show the distribution of other NHL players, where stars are the very top. By this metric, Wilson (recovering from an ACL injury) was a negative-impact player in 2022-23.
On breakdown day, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan announced his hopes to extend Wilson. “I’d like Tom to finish up in Washington,” MacLellan said. “He’s been a big part of our culture, our group. He’s consistently gotten better throughout the years. We’re going to do everything we can to sign him.
“He was one of our better players down the stretch,” MacLellan continued. “I really liked him and Strome together. I thought they were two players that played consistently well down the stretch when we weren’t as a team playing well.”
Wilson was candid about his intentions as well. “I’m not a guy that’s going to play hardball and say that I don’t want to be here,” Wilson said. “Everyone knows I want to be here. No matter what happens, I want to help this city win games.”
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Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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