Photo credit: Panini America
About a half an hour after the Capitals selected Filip Forsberg at number 11, they had several sexy options at number 16. Two talented Finns were still available in Tuomo Teravainen and Olli Maatta, while PK Subban’s brother Malcolm was also still without a team.
Instead the Caps went a little off the board (THN #25) and drafted six-foot, four-inch right-wing Thomas Wilson.
Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
“In the playoffs, we made a note after one of the games,” Capitals GM George McPhee said. “It was to remember these games when we’re at the draft. Remember how intense they are, how demanding they are, how physical they are, and make sure we get someone who wants to play in that kind of stuff.”
In Wilson, McPhee gets exactly that.
If you skim through Wilson’s favorites list on NHL.com, you quickly understand what kind of hockey he enjoys. His favorite sport other than hockey? rugby; his favorite movie? Green Street Hooligans; and his favorite superhero? Superman.
Perhaps most intriguingly, the player he wants to model his game after is Milan Lucic.
In 49 games for the Plymouth Whalers during an injury-plagued 2011-12 season, Wilson recorded 27 points (9 goals, 18 assists), 141 penalty minutes, and a plus-17 rating. In the playoffs he showed off his scoring touch, adding 13 points (7 goals, 6 assists) in 13 post-season contests when several of his talented teammates were felled due to injury. Wilson also was voted as the ‘Best Body Checker’ in the OHL’s 2012 Western Conference Coaches Poll and was a runner up for the ‘Hardest Worker’ distinction.
The behemoth winger is certainly not afraid to drop the gloves, with 18 fights already in his young career. In fact, he impressed scouts when he broke his knuckle in a fight against fellow draft pick Dalton Thrower at last year’s CHL Top Prospects game.
“There’s so many talented players,” Wilson said in an interview with the Detroit Free Press. “I was just really trying to separate myself. My physical play could do that for me, and I think it did do that. It showed I was working hard and could play that game.”
Wilson also wowed at the scouting combine, finishing in the top ten of almost every power category, including recording the fourth-best result time in the punishing V02 Max bike test.
“You can find guys that are tough,” McPhee explained. “But if they can’t play, what good are they? This kid seems to be that rare combination these days of a guy who is tough but can play. Worst case scenario he plays on the fourth line. If he develops properly, he could be a third, second line player.”
Wilson came highly recommended by former Caps coach Dale Hunter, who saw the winger up close and personal many times last season as a coach of the London Knights. When McPhee and Hunter met up during the morning of Day 1, McPhee was left with one message. “Dale likes [this kid] a lot.”
Wilson will participate in Caps Development Camp, which will be held the second week of July. Then it’ll be off to training camp in September.
“I had (Ovechkin’s) jersey growing up,” Wilson said. “It’s gonna be really cool to meet him.”
Highlights of Wilson’s goals. Oh god, Linkin Park.
Wilson fights Ben Thomas in the playoffs to stick up for one of his injured teammates.
Minute-long bout with Austen Brassard.
Wilson fights Joseph Cramarossa after he runs one of his teammates.
Wilson meets with the media after being drafted by the Capitals.
Wilson talks with Mike Vogel.