Since the conclusion of the 2013-14 regular season CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley has evaluated the performance of each player on the Caps roster. Today’s final installment: Tom Wilson
Position: Right Wing
Age: 20 [turns 21 March 29]
Ht/Wt: 6-4, 210
Penalty minutes: 151
Average Ice Time: 7:56
Contract Status: 2 years remaining on 3-year, $3.975 million entry-level contract [$894,167 cap hit, $925,000 NHL salary]
Strengths: At the insistence of former head coach Adam Oates, Wilson made the Caps’ opening night roster and was one of only three NHL rookies to play in all 82 games. [Rookie of the Year candidates Nathan MacKinnon and Tyler Johnson were the others]. Relegated to the fourth line all season Wilson proved to be one tough customer, dropping the gloves 14 times and ranking fifth in the NHL in fighting majors. He finished second among all NHL rookies in penalty minutes  and third in hits . Considering his age, Wilson was also a popular player in the dressing room, mostly because of his willingness to play a hard-edged game and drop the gloves for his teammates.
Weaknesses: Taken 16th overall in the 2012 NHL draft, the expectations for Wilson are far greater than what he produced offensively this season. In fact, he finished in a tie for 55th in the league in rookie scoring with 10 points and ranked 189th in ice time at 7:56. Much of his lack of production was the result of his role as a fourth-line player and his inability to develop his offensive skills. Because of healthy seasons from Alex Ovechkin [78 games], Troy Brouwer [82 games] and Joel Ward [82 games] Wilson never got the chance to play with skilled players and that’s something new Caps general manager Brian MacLellan said has to change next season.
Memorable Moment: On Nov. 5, with the Capitals holding a three-goal lead on the visiting New York Islanders, Adam Oates rewarded Wilson with some power-play time. After Mikhail Grabovski won a faceoff back to Alex Ovechkin, Wilson broke toward the net and shoveled a centering pass from Ovechkin past goalie Evgeni Nabokov. Later in the Caps’ locker room, Wilson was recounting his momentous goal when Ovechkin sneaked up behind him and pelted him with a shaving cream pie in a towel.
Quotable: “He’s such a big man and the one thing we don’t want for him is to get into lazy habits because he dwarfs everybody out there. I don’t want to compare, but it’s a little like Eric Lindros. He was so much bigger than everybody in junior and he could just cruise around out there. Tom has that capability and we just want to make sure he’s on track.” – Adam Oates on Wilson during last summer’s development camp
2014-15 Expectations: Unless the Capitals trade one of their right wings the only way Wilson begins next season in the top six is if Alex Ovechkin moves back to left wing, creating a spot for Wilson on one of the Caps’ top two lines. If new coach Barry Trotz sees Joel Ward as the perfect solution to the top line’s defensive woes, Wilson could be inserted onto a second line, perhaps with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson. If the Caps can find a way to double Wilson’s ice time and maybe give him some ice on the power play, there’s no reason to think he can’t score 15 goals as a second-year player.