Photo credit: Chris Gordon
Earlier in the week, George McPhee told the media he had no interest in inviting junior players to training camp. “There’s no sense… in that sort of thing because they wouldn’t be able to make our team right now anyway.” After Brooks Laich returned to camp with what appears to be a groin injury and Nicklas Backstrom still regaining form after suffering a neck injury, a depth forward or two couldn’t hurt.
That’s why on Thursday, McPhee announced that Tom Wilson, the 16th overall pick of the 2012 NHL draft, would be coming to camp after all.
Since being left off of Canada’s 2013 World Junior Championship team, Wilson has played like a man possessed, riding an eight-game point-scoring streak. In that span, Wilson has recorded six goals and six assists. In his last game with the Plymouth Whalers before traveling to Washington — a 4-2 triumph over the Brampton Battalion, Wilson had a goal and an assist.
Wilson has averaged a point-per-game so far this season, tallying 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) in 31 games. He had 27 points in 49 games last season.
It’s Wilson’s physicality, which has drawn comparisons to Milan Lucic, that sets him apart. The six-foot, four-inch behemoth has broken his knuckle twice in fights and routinely lands big hits on opposing players. He has 59 penalty minutes so far this year and has dropped mitts three times.
During a recent game when Wilson was awarded with the hit of the night, Whalers commentators gave him an awesome nickname.
Ladies and gentleman, say hello to The Ten Train. Why? Because Wilson wears number ten and The Ten Train always arrives on time. Choo choo! (That Thomas The Tank Engine nickname probably isn’t going to stick. Not tough enough.)
Wilson will arrive in Washington on Saturday while arguably playing the best hockey of his young career. If he continues his stellar play in training camp, it’s not out of the question that Wilson could stick with the team for a few games: the Caps could play the 18-year-old in as many as six NHL games this season without him playing away the first year of an entry-level contract.
So let’s see what happens with The Ten Train in camp. And gosh, I really need to honor this nickname with a t-shirt.
Additional reporting by Fedor Fedin.