What They're Saying: Tom Wilson
In Tom Wilson, Washington has chosen a Canadian forward in the first round for the first time since 2003 (Eric Fehr, 18th overall). Wilson is Toronto native who played for Plymouth of the OHL in 2011-12.
Central Scouting Bureau (15th among North American skaters)
• Wilson recorded 27 points (9-18--27), 141 penalty minutes and a plus-17 rating in 49 games for Plymouth during an injury-plagued (sprained MCL, broken knuckle) 2011-12 season. He added 13 points (7-6--13) in 13 playoff contests
• He was voted as the ‘Best Body Checker’ in the OHL’s 2012 Western Conference Coaches Poll and was a runner up for the ‘Hardest Worker’ distinction.
• In 2010-11, Wilson only appeared in 28 games for the Whalers after suffering a severed tendon in his wrist. He posted six points (3-3--6) and 71 penalty minutes in his first season in the OHL.
• Wilson won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, posting three goals in five games. He also won gold with Team Ontario at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, recording one assist and six penalty minutes in four games.
• In 2010, he was named the OHL Academic Player of the Month for October in the West Division. “Tom is a full-time student and achieving straight A’s,” said Whalers assistant coach Joe Stefan. “He has made a seamless transition into his first season in the OHL.”
• Former NHLer Steve Thomas, a family friend, has had a big impact on his career.
NHL team: Montreal Canadiens
NHL player: Milan Lucic
Shootout move: Triple deke
Goal celebration: Rollercoaster (hands up)
Video game: NHL Hits 2003
Movie: Green Street Hooligans
TV show: 24/7 - Road to the Winter Classic
Actor: Mark Wahlberg
Cartoon: The Simpsons
Restaurant: Outback Steakhouse
Sport (other than hockey): Rugby
Breakfast food: Tim Hortons
Red Line Report (ranked No. 27)
Huge, mean and nasty S.O.B. who brings a lot of snarl to the rink every night and is the best pure body-checker in this draft group. Loves the physical contact aspect of the game and is always looking to initiate contact in corners and around the walls. Would rather run over his check than around him – punishes opponents at every opportunity. Intimidating physical presence causes fear among OHL d-men. Stands up for teammates and provides skilled players more room to operate. Excellent when he drops the gloves and is not a liability skating 5-on-5. Will never be a sniper, but chips in offensively by causing turnovers and dominating down low in the crease. When given a more prominent role on a scoring line in the playoffs, showed he could score with seven goals in 13 games. Has battled injuries two straight years, so that’s a potential red flag.
Projection: Head cracking physical presence who chips in.
Style compares to: Milan Lucic-lite
Injuries have crippled Wilson’s overall development and he has yet to play an entire season in the OHL. Last season, he suffered a severed tendon in his wrist, cutting his 2010-11 season prematurely and this year he laboured through a sprained MCL and a broken knuckle courtesy of Dalton Thrower during a fight at the Top Prospects Game. For all his time missed, he has two international gold medals to his credit, in the World U17 and Ivan Hlinka tournaments. Wilson is an intriguing prospect because he plays like a true power-forward and he hits to hurt. His hits can easily change the complexion of the game. He is an intimidating presence when he steps onto the ice and doesn’t hesitate to fight, as he had nine fighting majors and took on all the heavyweights. Wilson’s game improved this year playing alongside elite players, often lining up with Richard Rackell and J.T. Miller and survived as he understood to keep his game simple. Whether it was dumping pucks in deep, using his size along the wall or driving the net, Wilson’s contributions led to the success of the line. Wilson tried to work on his puck skills throughout the year, but doesn’t handle or protect it overly well. His skating marked considerable improvement and considering the severity of his knee injury, he did a good job to bounce back and recover. He generates good speed and has improved the overall length of his stride to converge on pucks quicker than he did at the start of the season. Wilson only started playing Rep hockey when he was 14 and his rash of injuries have limited him to under 80 league games in two seasons, but his potential, coupled with his unique brand of physical play may see him jump a few spots earlier than expected. He simply offers a dynamic that not many prospects offer.
Subtlety is not the first thing that comes to mind when discussing Wilson’s game. The Plymouth Whalers power forward uses his big frame to punish opponents and create scoring chances. And if someone doesn’t like it, he’s happy to drop the gloves. That was the situation at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game when Wilson traded punches with Saskatoon’s Dalton Thrower after the Whalers’ big man drove Thrower’s Blades teammate, Lukas Sutter, into the boards.
Wilson busted a knuckle on Thrower’s head, but returned after missing a month and was productive.
Though Wilson isn’t a scorer in Plymouth yet, scouts know his track record from midget and the Whalers are always so deep youngsters don’t always post numbers right away. “He’s an interesting player,” says one scout. “All the attributes of an NHL power forward. He skates well, is strong below the goal line and his hands and ability to make plays are underrated.”
Wilson is a true power forward with great physical projection and intangibles, although his ultimate offensive upside is a little questionable. His physical game is elite, or close to that level, with a massive frame that has muscle on it and he can be such a pain to deal with along the boards. When Wilson turns his back to a checker, he can protect the puck well, showing decent hands in tight and the ability to make a few plays, but he really controls the puck and makes plays by overpowering his opponent. Wilson is dangerous on the forecheck and will land some thundering hits and will show an edgy side to his game which results in getting involved in a few scraps. Wilson skates at a decent level for a big man, and his first few steps look much better than 1-2 years ago, but he's' certainly not a threat with his skating. He will flash decent vision and doesn't have poor hockey sense but he's not an overly creative or instinctive player. The team that drafts Wilson is not taking a bona fide goon or energy player, but they have to understand they aren't taking a top-six power forward, either.