Washington Capitals: Tom Wilson Must Tone It Down


Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

For Tom Wilson, the time to emerge as an offensive threat for the Washington Capitals has arrived. He has performed brilliantly so far.

The Washington Capitals selected Tom Wilson with the second of their first-round picks in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. They were likely trying to land a big, physical power forward similar to Milan Lucic when they did so. His offensive production flourished while developing on the OHL Plymouth Whalers through 2013. It appears to have hit a snag through 165 games in the NHL. In the last year of his Entry Level Contract with the Washington Capitals, the time to shine is now.

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The synopsis on Tom Wilson thus far into his career with the Washington Capitals has been likened more to Colton Orr or Tie Domi so far than Milan Lucic. While his tough breed of physical play has undoubtedly helped the team to the extent that an enforcer can, that’s not what he was drafted to do. He was drafted to score goals. He was drafted to be a power forward.

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Fans of the Washington Capitals have appreciated Wilson for the physical presence and hard hits than he dishes out on a nightly basis. Those same fans have shared in mutual disappointment that the scoring element to his game hasn’t evolved as expected. His ability to agitate and distract opponents certainly helped the Washington Capitals win a difficult seven-game series over the New York Islanders last post-season. He’s clearly in the Islanders’ heads and he knows it.

On the other hand, one can’t help but think that Wilson has not yet begun to tap into that offensive potential that he showed in the OHL. Head coach Barry Trotz told us all last night in his post-game presser with the Monumental Network that he feels the same way. Trotz said this of Wilson’s role against the Islanders last night:

"I thought he did really well. I knew what the situation was with their veteran player who [was injured last post-season]. Obviously, Tom had an impact in that series and they’re trying to send a message back. I actually told Tom to back off. There’s no need. I need him to play. I need him to get the ice time. I don’t need him to do that right now. He would definitely answer the bell. I don’t think he has any problem doing that. I actually told him to not [engage] and just avoid that, but also be alert so that he doesn’t get jumped or anything like that. – Barry Trotz"

Tom Wilson appeared to have received the memo from his coach loud and clear. He also spoke with Mike Vogel of Monumental Network last night and shared his thoughts after the 3-1 victory. He was provoked early in the game by fellow pugilist Eric Boulton. He politely declined the invitation to drop the mitts. 

"Yeah, I just don’t think there’s any point in trying to fight those guys. He didn’t play at all last year. He’s probably not going to play at all this year. I’m trying to use these pre-season games to get ready for the year. I know there’s always going to be that physical part of my game, but there’s just no need for me to take guy [on]. Unless he’s running around and taking advantage of our guys, there’s no reason to pay him any attention to a guy like that. – Wilson"

Instead, Tom Wilson provided some grade A offense with emerging forward and former roommate Andre Burakovsky. Wilson got an opportunity to work as the big man on the Washington Capitals power-play in place of departed winger Joel Ward. He made the most of his opportunity and received an assist on the ensuing power-play goal from Burakovsky. Wilson divulged this after the game.

"We did kind of make that rule that whoever scores the goal buys dinner and clearly I didn’t want to buy him dinner twice. Out there, he made some great passes. [On] the first one, the goalie actually made a pretty good save. And [on] the second one, I had a wide open net. Just hit the post. I’d love to blame it on a little bit of rust, but I gotta bury those pucks. You’ve seen it from that kid. He’s unbelievable. [His] vision and [we] definitely had some chemisty that hopefully we can build on this season and years to come. – Wilson"

Count me in, Tom. I’d love to see him play big minutes with Burakovsky this season in the top six or top nine. It seems Barry Trotz feels the same way:

"He was good. He played twenty minutes. He hasn’t played twenty minutes in quite a while. He had a good chance [and] had a couple good looks at the net. [He] scored a power play goal. Good puck retrievals and some exits, you know? Those are the things he’s good [at]. I thought his board play got better as the game went on. So, a lot of good things. – Barry Trotz"

Let’s hope Wilson can find that perfect blend as a tough-as-nails forward and scoring threat this season as  the regular season gets set to go underway. If he can, it would really fill out the identity of the Washington Capitals as a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference in Barry Trotz and companies’ second year with the team.

Stay tuned to Stars and Sticks for continuing coverage of the Washington Capitals and feel free to remark on what


like to see from Big Tom this season as well!

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