Tom Wilson: 2015-16 Season Review

Wilson Fight

Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images 

Tom Wilson has become one of the more polarizing Capitals players in recent years. A first round pick comes with certain expectations, and he has certainly not fulfilled all of them to this point in his young career. It may be too early to decide on his bust status quite yet, but those questions are rightfully being raised. As long as Wilson can keep contributing in a positive manner, whether the offensive numbers come or not, and his salary truthfully reflects his output, most Caps fans will want him on the team for as long as possible.

And that’s a good thing. He showed growth this year. If he continues to grow on the offensive side of the ice as well, it would make the Caps all the more dangerous.

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During his season-ending press conference with reporters, Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan lamented the loss of Joel Ward while also stating his desire to see Tom Wilson expand his role. “I think it’s on us to turn Tom Wilson into Joel Ward,” MacLellan said. “It’s on Tom and on us to turn him into that kind of guy that has a net-front presence, that finds loose pucks, finds rebounds, plays good along the wall. I think Tom is our answer to that.”

Wilson, who has led the Capitals in penalty minutes over the last three seasons, has not seen the offensive ability he showed in junior translate to the NHL. On Wednesday night, Wilson gave us a front row seat to the intense summer training that may or may not take him to the next level.

It did not include squats, but did include a samurai bun.

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It’s already felt like way too long of a summer and the NHL playoffs aren’t even over yet. Thankfully for Caps fans, they can pass the time by endlessly perusing through players’ Instagram photos to see who Tom Wilson and Michael Latta have chirped lately.

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Capitals Players Go to Washington Nationals Game

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Photo: @tom_wilso

Sunday afternoon, the Washington Capitals had a group outing at Nats Park to watch the Nationals take on the Miami Marlins. Tom Wilson, Brooks Orpik, Braden Holtby, Nate Schmidt, and Karl Alzner all appeared to be in attendance with children. The Caps had a private suite.

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Photo: Friends In Cold Places

TJ Oshie shares the Caps’ lead in postseason goals (5) with Alex Ovechkin. Some may say Oshie’s improved finishing ability is due to hard work or being more clutch. I think it’s due to his new pregame ritual.

Let me explain.

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Tom Wilson Put Sidney Crosby in a Headlock

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Capitals forward Tom Wilson did something many of us would like to do. During a Penguins’ first period power play, Wilson put Sidney Crosby in a headlock.

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Sunday afternoon, the NHL suspended Brooks Orpik three games for his head shot of Olli Maatta. Monday after the Capitals morning skate, Tom Wilson defended his teammate and also criticized NBC’s Mike Milbury.

During the first intermission of Game Two, Milbury, who has always been a lightning rod for controversy, called Orpik a “predator,” implying that the Caps defenseman was looking to injure Maatta. Orpik and Maatta are friends off the ice.

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NHL Fines Tom Wilson for Kneeing Conor Sheary

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Knee-on-knee.

Once again, Tom Wilson is being talked about for all the wrong reasons. On Friday afternoon, the NHL fined Wilson $2,403.67, the maximum allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for kneeing Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary.

Sheary missed a few shifts after the hit but stayed in the game.

Speaking before the fine was levied by the Department of Player Safety, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz admitted Wilson should have avoided the hit, though he described it as “shin-on-shin.”

“We’ll leave it up to the league,” Trotz said. “Whatever they decide, I think we’re fine with it. That’s what their job is. You gotta respect. Player Safety with the NHL has done, I think, a good job.”

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Photo: Rob Carr

After Monday night’s anarchic attempt at a hockey game, the Washington Capitals held a 3-0 series lead. In 180 minutes of hockey, the Philadelphia Flyers took 96 PIMs. Washington’s power play was eight for 17. The Caps, it seemed, were in for a long layover before facing the winner of the Rangers-Penguins series.

“Everything they’ve gotten to a point we’ve given them,” Wayne Simmonds said in the minutes after Game Three ended. “We’ve got to stay out of the box.”

The Flyers have done that the last two games, reducing Washington to five power plays in Games Four and Five. Without that boost, the Caps fell when the series shifted back to Verizon Center Friday night. They outshot the Flyers 44-11 — shot attempts were 82-27 — but lost the special teams battle. Philadelphia had six power plays while Washington’s deadly man-advantage unit was limited to three.

“We were in the box a lot,” Tom Wilson, who did not receive any infractions, said. “Yeah, we had a lot of shots, but we have to do a better job of getting to the interior and staying out of the box. If we play 60 minutes five-on-five, I don’t think you see that team standing up by the end of it.”

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Photo: Patrick Smith

Wednesday night during Game Four, Brayden Schenn got dangerous again. The Flyers forward cross-checked Evgeny Kuznetsov in the leg while the Caps’ leading scorer had his back turned. The play went unpenalized, but Schenn’s attempt to injure did not go unnoticed by several Caps.

Speaking to the press during the team’s off day, checking-line forward Tom Wilson shared his disgust.

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