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2020-21 Rink Wrap: Tom Wilson

From Backstrom to Wilson, we’re taking a look at and grading the 2020-21 season for every player who laced ‘em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2021-22. Last but certainly not least, Tom Wilson.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Stats:

Regular Season


The Charts:

via Evolving-Hockey
via HockeyViz

The Key Stat: 65% - the percentage of goals scored with Tom Wilson on the ice that he earned a point on. This is the highest such mark of his career.

The Good: Tom Wilson continues to demonstrate that he’s no one dimensional player. He’s a true producer in the top half of the lineup, and year after year he puts down some sort of significant improvement or career-best in offensive category. This year, it was his 5v5 point rate, which came in at a career high 2.30 points/60. But that doesn’t mean the, uh, other side of his game has gone the way of all flesh. Wilson still led the team in penalties drawn (16), and although he also led the team in penalties taken (13), as long as the difference between those numbers is staying positive, it’s hard not to think that the sum of Willy’s relationship with the sinbin nets out favorably for the Caps. Speaking of his relationship with the sinbin, Willy took minor penalties at a rate of 1.16 penalties per 60 minutes of ice time, which was the lowest rate of his career, and continues a 5-year general downward trend with his penalty-taking.

Willy was also a strong contributor to the penalty kill - among forwards who received meaningful minutes on the kill, his on ice shots-against rate was second lowest on the team, behind only Lars Eller. On the other side of the special teams coin, Wilson notched career highs in powerplay points, with eight.

The Bad: Although Tom Wilson’s point production looked great this year, it was driven largely by an on-ice shooting percentage (12.2%) that’s 20% higher than his previous career high. Willy’s on-ice shots for number (28.27) hit a four-year low, his individual shot rate (5.8) was tied for the lowest mark of his career, and his individual shot-attempt rate (9.97) was his lowest rate since his rookie year, and represents a significant fall off from previous years, where this number tended to come in up around 12 or 13 shot attempts per 60. Granted, some of this may have to do with Peter Laviolette’s system arriving in the Nation’s Capital, but it’s worth keeping an eye on, because this year’s template suggests that if the percentages begin to dwindle, the underlying volume won’t be there to support the production.

Additionally, Tom Wilson wasn’t able to keep his rap sheet clean for the campaign, as he earned a game misconduct for the sixth season in a row, and also brought down the strong arm of the law after a hit on the Bruins’ Brandon Carlo helped usher Wilson to a seven-game stint in the press box, and ensured that future analysis of his border-toeing will include “repeat offender” considerations. Wilson is most effective when he’s playing on the edge, but missing large swaths of games is indicative that the “edge” is not being skillfully navigated.

The Video:

The Discussion: Is Tom Wilson more pest or producer? Would he be even more effective if he took some of the edge out of his game, or is that precisely what drives his effectiveness? Finally, what would it take for you to give Wilson a 10 next season?

The Vote: Rate Tom 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 2020-21 season?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    (9 votes)
  • 8%
    (11 votes)
  • 24%
    (32 votes)
  • 27%
    (36 votes)
  • 21%
    (28 votes)
  • 6%
    (8 votes)
  • 3%
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    (2 votes)
133 votes total Vote Now