As we do each and every year in the weeks leading up to Capitals training camp, NoVa Caps is preparing key “player previews” for the coming season. Today our annual player previews continue with Tom Wilson.
2016-17 SEASON RECAP
Prior to the 2016-17 season, the Capitals signed Wilson to a two-year, $4 million contract. The Capitals had expectations on him to fill the void that former Capital Joel Ward left. While he didn’t have the numbers that “the big cheese” had, Wilson still evolved his game. Wilson had a much different season than most of us were accustomed to, but in a good way. Over his first three seasons in the league, Wilson was known for his hard hits and frequent trips to the penalty box. While he finished with 239 hits (the second-most in his career), Wilson showed more discipline by staying out of the sin bin. In 2016-17, Wilson finished with a career-low 1.62 penalty minutes per game.
Offensively, Wilson scored seven goals for the second season in a row, while playing in all 82 regular season games, and adding 12 assists for 19 points. Wilson had career-highs in both ice time (12:56 per game) and shot percentage (7.4). Defensively, Wilson was effective on the penalty kill and finished with 44 blocked shots and 36 takeaways. Capitals goaltenders posted a .937 save percentage while he was on the ice.
The Capitals’ first round playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs might have been Wilson’s coming out party. In addition to the motivation he had playing against his hometown team, Leafs head coach Mike Babcock added fuel to his fire with one quote that possibly set the tone for the entire series:
“Nothing against Wilson because he works hard and all that, but he’s not as big of concern as a lot of people on their team.”
In Game 1, Wilson scored the game-winner in overtime (see below) and added two more goals in a critical Game 4 that shifted the momentum in the Capitals favor. It was a great way to finish the season after a slow start, and it could be a preview of what’s to come for the young right winger.
Tom Wilson’s top moment from 2016-17 season.
2017-2018 SEASON PREVIEW
As with any player entering their fifth season in the league, a lot more will be expected out of Tom Wilson this upcoming season. With the departure of Justin Williams in free agency, expect Wilson’s role to increase as a top-six forward. The time is now for Wilson to become the player both the front office and the fans envisioned him to be when he was drafted 16th overall in 2012.
As Wilson enters the final year of his contract, and has an increasingly larger role, he should have better linemates on the second-line, which in turn, will increase his offensive numbers. Look for 2017-18 to be Wilson’s best season in a Capitals sweater. For the 23-year old, there’s nowhere to go but up.
More of this:
Watch this sequence right here in which Tom Wilson lays out to stop the puck from crossing the goal-line, then hustles to the other end of the ice to bury it in on the same shift. If we can see hustle plays like that on a consistent basis, Wilson will have a phenomenal year and the Capitals will need to pay the man.
Less of this:
If Tom Wilson can lay off controversial-type hits, like the one he laid on the Devils defenseman John Moore that sent him to the hospital, that would be helpful. The league has been known to discipline players for hits and while his worst case scenario has been fines by the league, that could change as the league cracks down. The Capitals need their veteran core and their new young guns as much as possible, and can’t afford to have anybody, including Wilson, face a suspension of any length.
Key Goals for 2017-2018 Season:
Wilson is expected to step up and potentially become a leader, much like his fellow roommate Andre Burakovsky, this upcoming season. Here are some goals he should shoot for this upcoming season.
- Stay healthy
- Stay out of the box
- Score 15-20 goals
- Register at least 40 points
- Have a presence in front of the net
Tom Wilson: “Guys are ready to Get Back After It”
Tom Wilson Comments on Bryce Harper’s Brawl
With Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie Hitting Free Agency on July 1, Tom Wilson Could See His Role Increase
Tom Wilson: Hero in Washington, Villain in Toronto
Capitals Beat Leafs in OT 3-2, Tom Wilson Notches Game Winner
Project 43: Tom Wilson’s Transformation Has Been Instrumental in the Capitals’ Success
Growing Up – The Evolution of Tom Wilson
By Michael Marzzacco
SUMMERTIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA