“It’s going to be a goal to pick up where I left off,” Tom Wilson told the media during the Washington Capitals’ exit interviews back in April. The 25-year-old forward posted a career high 40 points (22 goals) in the 2018-19 season, and is determined to continue the consistency, physicality, and scoring. NoVa Caps previews what we can expect to see from Wilson in the upcoming season.
Over the course of six games from November 21 to December 2, Tom Wilson saw the longest point streak of his NHL career. He picked up nine points, seven of which were goals. As a top-six forward, he has consistently provided the team with versatility in offensive areas, as well as defensive depth.
Early last season, the Capitals were not firing on all cylinders. They were not the same Stanley Cup Champion team we saw months prior. Part of this was due to Wilson’s 20-game suspension (later reduced to fourteen by a neutral arbitrator) resulting from a nasty hit to the head of St. Louis Blues forward, Oskar Sundqvist. Without their top-line forward, the Capitals were inconsistent in numerous areas of play. One area specifically was special teams, units in which Wilson played a key role.
Wilson returned to the ice on November 13 when the team was up north at Xcel Energy Center, clashing with the Minnesota Wild. He scored the second goal, which was his first of the new season. Not only was it a convincing 5-2 win for the Capitals, but the game also helped jump start the team’s confidence, consistency, and tempo.
It’s may no surprise that Wilson maintained his physical presence on the ice. Despite his suspension at the beginning of last season, the Canadian right-winger found a balance of eliminating questionable hits and utilizing wise checks. This lead to better performance on the ice. Wilson focused more on producing and helping the Capitals whenever and wherever he could. Once considered to be one of the most hated players in the league, Wilson shook off the some of the “bad guy” persona after his suspension, and concentrated on puck management, playing a cleaner game, and staying out of the box.
Seven players on the Capitals scored twenty or more goals this past season and No. 43 was one of them. He has progressed each year on scoring and hit a major milestone with his first-ever 20-goal season. Wilson reached the plateau on March 14 in a 5-2 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. He would score two later on in the regular season before picking up three goals in the Capitals’ short playoff run against the Carolina Hurricanes. With consistent play factoring in, Wilson can easily repeat (and exceed) a 20-goal season.
Tom Wilson is certainly meeting the expectations of his six-year, $31 million contract ($5.17 million AAV) that he signed last summer. He has become a valuable member of the team both on and off the ice. We are all eager to see what Wilson and the Capitals will bring in less than two months when the team opens their season on the road against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blues.
By Della Young