Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson has earned a reputation thanks to his physical style of play and tough guy mentality. However, signs point to No. 43 making a much different impact next season that could cast him in a new light.
In a shortened 2020-21 campaign, Wilson registered 13 goals and 33 points in 47 games, good for .70 points per game. In a regular season, he would have been on pace for 58 points, the first time he would have recorded at least 50 points in a year.
Looking at his on-ice play, Wilson has developed a lot of skill on the forecheck over time and is a proven 20-goal scorer. The 27-year-old has improved his shooting, passing and stickhandling, and he’s gotten better at taking care of the puck and forcing turnovers. In addition, his 6-4, 220-pound frame serves him well when it comes to generating a screen in front.
The takeaway ➡️ the shorty, Tom Wilson can do it all!! pic.twitter.com/ttg1p7Ps52
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 19, 2021
His advanced stats also spoke volumes. His 3.86 GF/60 and 53.76 GF% were the highest of his career, as were his HDCF% (52.77) and HDGF% (58.33). At all strengths, Wilson proved to be a difference-maker on the forecheck and a vital part of the top-6.
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Playing alongside Nicklas Backstrom, Wilson was able to combine with the Swede for a GF% of 63.64. Without those two on the ice, that number dropped to 52.82. A similar pattern can be seen with Alex Ovechkin, whose GF% is actually higher with Wilson than without him.
Wilson has proven that he can fit in well with Washington’s core players and contribute more than penalty minutes, hits and fights. Taking that into account, his success next season will require discipline. He’ll not only have to avoid dangerous plays but try and stay out of the box to boot.
Of course, as the saying goes, that’ll be easier said than done; his hard-hitting playing style is one that makes him tough to play against and helps him easily get under the skin of his opponents. However, a complete 82-game season will allow him to maximize his production and benefit the team.
Overall, Wilson is on the right track going forward. Putting aside controversial plays and his perception across the league, he has the opportunity to take a major step forward next season. And in turn, we could see a different Tom Wilson.