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2018-19 Rink Wrap: Tom Wilson

From Backstrom to Wilson, we’re taking a look at and grading the 2018-19 season for every player who laced ‘em up for the Stanley Cup Champion Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2019-20. Last but not least, Tom Wilson.

Carolina Hurricanes v Washington Capitals - Game Five Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Regular season


Key Stat: Wilson’s 22 goals were more than he’d scored in the previous two seasons combined, despite only appearing in 63 games.

The Good: After stepping up his game in 2017-18 - and serving as a key piece in the Caps’ eventual Cup run - Wilson signed a six-year, $31 million contract to stay in DC. The deal was panned by a number of “experts” in the immediate aftermath, seen as too much money for someone that had yet to show his full potential.

Well, fast-forward to a year later and so far that contract is looking pretty darn good.

After sitting out the first 16 games of the season, Wilson jumped right back into the lineup and immediately made an impact, with 17 points in his first 15 games back with the team. The result was his best statistical season to date, cracking the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career and scoring at a .63 points-per-game rate overall. Skating primarily on the top line alongside Alex Ovechkin and either Evgeny Kuznetsov or Nicklas Backstrom, Wilson made the most of his career-high 18:09 average ice time (just over two minutes more per night than his previous high), with 33 of his 40 points earned at even strength (17 goals, 16 assists). His 1.05 goals-per-60 at five on five checked in as the fourth-best mark on the team.

As successful as he was at even strength, Wilson also made his mark with some power-play time for the first time as a Cap, getting about a minute and a half with the extra man and scoring three power-play goals. On the flip side, he proved to be a huge part of the team’s penalty kill, trailing only Lars Eller in average shorthanded ice time, and even chipped in with a team-best two shorthanded goals. He also continued his dominance when it comes to drawing those penalties in the first place, leading the team with 30 (including 12 penalties drawn to cancel out the other team’s power play).

Along with his ability to kill penalties, Wilson also showed a renewed focus on being more disciplined; still no stranger to the penalty box, he showed a marked improvement in the type and timing of his hits and appeared to have learned a lesson from his lengthy suspension (which one hopes will remain learned when next preseason gets underway).

Wilson’s strong offensive season continued into the all-too-brief postseason run, with five points (3-2-5) in seven games against the ‘Canes, and just a single minor penalty in the entire first-round series.

The Bad: Coming off of the high of last season, it was easy to get excited about what Wilson could bring to the lineup as the team looked to defend their title. So it was somewhat disappointing to have to wait well over a month for it, as a preseason hit on St. Louis’s Oskar Sundqvist resulted in a 20-game suspension for Wilson. While it was eventually reduced to 14 games (after he’d already served 16), and while the time off did seem to it put a damper on the early part of the season.

And while the controversial hits he’s been known for seemed to be stricken from his repertoire, he still spent too much time in the penalty box — especially considering his new larger role on the power play. He didn’t lead the team in minor penalties but was still near the top with 24 (and led the Caps in penalty minutes per game with 2:01), and allowed himself to be goaded into too many fights. As he continues to take on more responsibility for the team at all strengths, he’d be better served to leave the fisticuffs out of his game and focus on staying on the ice.

The Video:

The Charts:

The Discussion: Do you think Wilson has permanently changed his game after serving his lengthy early-season suspension? Should Wilson be given a larger role on the power play next season, or was his usage this year right about where it should be? What would it take for you to give him a ‘10’ next season?

Other Wilson Season Reviews: RMNB

The Vote: Rate Wilson below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.


How do you rate Tom Wilson’s 2018-19 season?

This poll is closed

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151 votes total Vote Now