Barry Trotz said on Sunday that he wants to see Tom Wilson score double-digit goals this year. “We have to get more production out of Tom Wilson. We’re going to need more goals out of him,” said Trotz, saying he thought it was very attainable.
Wilson came to camp looking to fill a top 6 slot: “I want to be the best player that I can be. I want to play as high in the lineup as I can,” he told reporters after Sunday’s practice. “There’s opportunity up and down the lineup …. It’s on the player — it’s on myself — to make sure you put your best foot forward.”
Wilson, 23, scored 7 goals (tied for his career high) and 19 points last season and had a career low 133 penalty minutes. With the 48 goals the team lost in the offseason with the departures of Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams, Tom Wilson is high on the list of players that need to step up.
Wilson showed flashes of offensive ability in the first round playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he scored three important goals for the Caps. Trotz and the Capitals are hoping that could be a sign for a breakout year.
While Wilson could see a bigger role, he will have to compete with Alex Chiasson, who joined the Caps on a PTO contract, and several prospects who are angling for a spot on the Capitals roster. Chiasson has played a top-six role before and had 12 goals and 12 assists in 81 games with the Flames last year. For his career, Chiasson has 50 goals and 56 assists in 320 regular season games and 1 goal and 1 assist in 14 playoff games.
Wilson said he will need to show more consistency and to be able to prove that he’s in good enough shape to play the extra minutes that come with a top 6 role, saying he focused on conditioning this summer in an effort to get quicker on his skates.
In order to fulfill Trotz’s expectations, Wilson needs to continue to bring down his penalty minutes, something he acknowledged Sunday, saying “You can’t score goals if you’re in the box.” In the past three seasons, Wilson’s penalty minutes decreased each year, from 172 in 2014-2015 to 163 in 2015-16 and then 133 last season. Wilson also took on increased defensive role, with a career-high 36 takeaways and 2:04 average shorthanded ice time per game. He averaged 12:56 of ice time per game last season.
With more ice time, more shots, and fewer penalties, Wilson is going to be well-positioned to deliver more offense this year, and Trotz made it clear that he needs the winger to step up. With better linemates and more responsibility, Wilson could be an X-factor for the Capitals this year.
By Harrison Brown