Tom Wilson – need more be said? The power forward has recorded more than 200 hits in six of his eight seasons in the NHL. The former 16th-overall selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft has blossomed into a star.
Despite being widely-hated across the league by fans for his physicality, there is not a GM in the NHL that wouldn’t take Tom Wilson on their team. Despite the fiasco in New York from a season ago, Wilson is a much cleaner player than he was when the NHL suspended him for a pre-season hit on Oskar Sundqvist of the St. Louis Blues.
Let’s back up to a season ago though. While not a popular opinion in DC, Wilson was out of line in New York. The Rangers’ response was more outrageous, but that doesn’t excuse Wilson’s antics. Wilson’s initial punch to the head area of Pavel Buchnevich should not be excused. The hysteria that followed was blown way out of proportion, Artemi Panarin going after Wilson and getting rag-dolled goes to show you the strength of Wilson – nothing more. With that said, Wilson knows better, he understands that he is going to be put under a microscope.
Fair or not, he’s a professional and leading the NHL in penalty minutes is not acceptable for a top-six forward, no matter how you slice it. Wilson needs to take his game a step further, maintaining the elite power he plays with but work even harder to keep himself out of the box. Wilson, a 20-goal scorer two of the last three seasons, is most valuable for the Washington Capitals when he’s on the ice not only for his offensive prowess but his ability to level opponents with big hits like these: