Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson smiles as he sits at the podium at the 2022 NHL All-Star Weekend, donning a No. 43 All-Star sweater as he reflects on his journey to get to this point in Vegas.
The 27-year-old has been having a strong season offensively with 13 goals and 31 points through 41 games and is on pace to set a new career-high of 56 points this season. After captain Alex Ovechkin tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Wilson got the call that he would be headed to his first All-Star Weekend, and he quickly accepted.
“It’s really cool… when I got offered the opportunity, I was very honored and privileged,” Wilson told reporters on Friday. “These are the best players in our sport in the best game in the world, so it’s a lot of fun.”
Wilson joins Evgeny Kuznetsov as the team’s two representatives for the weekend’s festivities. For the skills competition on Friday, Wilson is taking part in the hardest shot contest and knows that he has big skates to fill, especially because that’s usually where Ovechkin has slotted in — and where he won back in 2018 with a 101.3 MPH shot. Plus, former teammate Zdeno Chara holds the all-time record with a 108.8 MPH blast back in 2012.
And when it comes to the hardest shot, Wilson got some words of wisdom from the former Bruins captain.
“Z texted me congratulating me. I said, ‘any tips?’ He said just have fun with it,” Wilson said. “He said he always shot better when he was loose and not putting too much pressure on himself. We’ve had some great guys in our room and a lot of experience so that was cool of him to reach out and send his best.
READ MORE ON WHN: Capitals’ Tom Wilson, Evgeny Kuznetsov Ready For Skills Competition
Wilson has also taken the time to catch up with his fellow players and also meet some new faces. He’s also earning praise from different All-Stars, including New Jersey Devils star and Metro teammate Jack Hughes.
“I know he’s a late add but it’d be fun to get to know him and play with him so I’m pretty excited about that,” Hughes said.
“It’s great to see the guys,” Wilson added. You know the people in this game are a huge part of what I enjoy about it… Crossing paths with guys that I’ve known or don’t know, it’s amazing. It’s a really cool experience and I’m just going to try and soak it all in.”
When it comes to playing the game, Wilson said his main goal is to have fun and represent the team and the league. And when asked about his hard-hitting style of play, Wilson said it wouldn’t be present at the ASG.
“I don’t think the other guys would be too happy about that,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot of great guys here and I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun and you know they’ll be flying around and making plays and just try and keep up and do my best.”