What's Next For Wilson?

Posted on June 10, 2014 by Adam Stringham

Ovechkin Congratulates Tom Wilson

Photo Credit: Washington Post

What should the Washington Capitals do with Tom Wilson?

Since the 2004-2005 NHL Lockout 81 rookies (between the ages of 18-25) have played at least 65 of their team's 82 games. Only three of those rookies had less points than Tom Wilson and only five saw less ice time (Hockey-Reference). When Brian MacLellan was first introduced to the media he expressed a strong belief: the youth in the Capitals' organization will be the key to the teams' future success. 

"Wilson, I would have liked him to play a lot more last year; there were certain points in the season where he could have been given more ice time, given a little power play, certain games where that would have been effective for him," MacLellan explained. "We've got to work on his skill level. That's the key for him. He's obviously proved he's physical and can skate and can hit and fight, but I want him to be a top-six forward. " -Brain MacLellan 

Washington fans have had high expectations for Tom Wilson since he was selected with the 16th overall pick of the 2012 entry draft. Those expectations were bolstered further when Wilson put up 58 points in 48 games for the OHL's Plymouth Whalers during the 2012-13 regular season. Tom Wilson became the second best prospect in the Capitals' system when the Capitals traded Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat and Michael Latta. Wilson's situation was complicated by the fact that he was ineligible to play for the Capitals' American League affiliate the Hershey Bears; for Wilson it was either play against the best in the world in the NHL or his peers in Plymouth. A strong development camp and preseason earned Wilson a spot on the roster, and resulted in Mathieu Perreault being traded to the Anaheim Ducks to clear cap space. Below are two great recaps of Wilson's season.

Russian Machine Never Breaks

Japers' Rink

So What's Next For Wilson?

Brian MacLellan wants to see Tom Wilson develop his skill level and the best way to do that is to give Wilson top 6 minutes. Next season Wilson will be eligible to play in Hershey, potentially with the OHL's top drafted winger Andre Burakovsky. The Capitals have three highly touted prospects that could come together to form one offensive trio in the future (Burakovsky, Kuznetsov, and Wilson). Kuznetsov will be with the team for the whole season, but it is hard to see Wilson cracking the top 6 with the big club without some trades clearing away the logjam in front of him on the depth chart. In order for Wilson to develop into the player that he was drafted to become he needs more minutes, and the AHL may be the best place for him to get them. 

Barry Trotz believes in slowly developing prospects. Even though Nashville was in need of an offensive punch last year, Trotz did not rush his team's blue chip offensive prospect, Capitals' draft choice Filip Forsberg, into the lineup. Rather than keep Forsberg in the NHL where he was unlikely to succeed, Trotz sent him down to the AHL to play for the Milwaukee Admirals where he put up a respectable 34 points in 47 games. Based on how Trotz likes to develop young players; I would not be surprised if Wilson found himself in Hershey to start of the 2014-15 NHL season, and he may very well be better off for it. 

Follow me on Twitter @Stringhama and @TalkTheRed

Special Thanks to Andy Hom

Posted in: Washington Capitals
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