NHL Draft Prospect Profile #31: Tom Wilson
Drafted 16th overall by the Washington Capitals.
In our internal discussions, Tom Wilson was the toughest and most controversial of our prospect rankings. There was a ton of debate over Wilson. One of the contributors to this series had Wilson ranked as high as the Mid-Teens. Another had Wilson ranked in the 50s. In the end, when we tabulated the votes we found that Wilson was at #31, just outside the first round bubble.
Wilson for the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL. He was also a member of Team Canada’s gold medal squad in the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Tournament. He is a huge winger who plays with reckless abandon, and is seen as a power forward prospect. He’s fought the injury bug over the last two seasons suffering from a severed tendon in his wrist in 2010-11, and losing time this season to a sprained MCL, and to a broken knuckle suffered at the Top Prospects game in a fight with Dalton Thrower.
Born Mar 29 1994 — Toronto, ONT
Height 6.04 — Weight 200 — Shoots R
Wilson had an excellent showing in the OHL playoffs teasing more offence than he had shown in his two years in the OHL. However the question remains, was his 13 game, 7 goal and 13 point performance a sign of things to come. A turning point for Wilson, or will he revert to the form that has saw him score 9 goals in 49 OHL games in the regular season. The question that remains is: Does Wilson have the offensive tools of other power forward type prospects like Henrik Samuelsson, and Colton Sissons?
Wilson has the size that NHL teams drool over. His skating stride is unconventional, but it works for him and he generates very good speed for a big man. He also has decent agility, especially for a guy his size. He does however need to be stronger on his skates, and to work on his edgework.
Wilson is a punishing body checker who loves to dish it out and absolutely hammers defencemen on the forecheck. He can be scary in the neutral zone as well, as Wilson absolutely loves catching an opposing player with their head down and laying him out. He is no doubt one of the most feared hitters in the OHL and someone that all players need to be aware of when he is on the ice.
There are however questions about Wilson’s game, especially in the offensive end of the rink. His wrist shot is fairly hard, and has good accuracy, however his release needs to be a lot quicker to fool pro goalies consistently. His stickhandling, is a work in progress as are his hands in tight to the goal. His offensive ceiling is the biggest question mark, and is the reason why we had such a hard time ranking Wilson. Could he become a top 6 player in the NHL? Is he destined for a bottom 6 role? Exactly how much he can improve these aspects of his game will determine this.
Wilson is a hard worker, and this certainly helps in the defensive end of the rink. He’s a conscientious backchecker and continues his very physical game in his own end of the rink. He is strong on board battles and willing to throw a big check. His one issue is that this sometimes leads to a lack of discipline, either through getting himself out of position trying to make the big hit, or in taking an ill-timed trip to the penalty box.
When coming up with a comparable for Wilson, we again had a tough time. One of our contributors said that Wilson could develop into a clone of Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins. However another contributor believes his ceiling is closer to a third line player like Colby Armstrong, with better fighting skills. One thing we do agree on, Wilson is a safe bet to make the NHL one day, his size, skating ability, robust physical game, and toughness, will make him a good bet to develop into a third line contributor at minimum.
Despite our ranking of 31, we feel that Wilson will be drafted much higher than that come draft day in June. One thing to remember with controversial prospects like him, is that it takes a whole bunch of teams to pass over him, to make a guy fall down a draft board, it only takes one team to love him to pick him. We feel that Wilson has such a split of opinion that there will be at least one team (probably more) who absolutely love him.
… and thats the Last Word.