With the June 30 NHL entry draft fast approaching – the Capitals own eight selections, including the 23rd overall pick – we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 prospects already in the organization and a brief scouting/progress report on each.
Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will profile all 10 prospects, in descending order. Today’s top prospect, at No. 2: Tom Wilson
Position: Right Wing
Ht/Wt: 6-4, 210
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Drafted: 1st round [16th overall] in 2012
Contract Status: 3 years remaining on 3-year, $2.775 million contract [$70,000 AHL, $925,000 NHL, $1.3 million cap hit in 2013-14]
2012-13 Team: Plymouth [OHL]
Penalty Minutes: 104
Scouting Report: Following the Capitals’ second-round loss to the New York Rangers in 2012, general manager George McPhee noticed his team needed a player opponents hate to play against. With that in mind, the Caps took Wilson with the 16th pick of last year’s draft and let him tear up the OHL with 58 points and a plus-36 rating in 48 games. Wilson hits opponents so hard and so often that Adam Oates had to ask him to ease up on the Caps’ other prospects at least summer’s development camp. Wilson was called up to play in three playoff games for the Hershey Bears and became the first teenager in Caps history to make his NHL debut in a playoff game, recording eight hits and four shots in 26 shifts over three games. “It’s really a privilege to have had that opportunity,” Wilson said on Caps breakup day last month. “I'm just going to work hard in this offseason and hopefully come in in September and make an impact.”
2013-14 Expectations: The Caps would like to turn Wilson into the next Milan Lucic and are wrestling over whether that means sending him back to Plymouth for another year of seasoning, or handing him a spot on the Caps’ roster next season and letting him work his way into the top six or nine forwards. "I explained to him, 'We're going to do what's best for your development,” McPhee said. “Right now I'm not sure what that is. Is it, go back to junior and be on the power play and score 40 goals next year? Or come and play with us for eight to 10 minutes a game and survive? I don't want him to be a career survivor, though. I want him to develop. … He'll probably provide the answer when he comes to training camp.” With Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer locked in as the Caps’ top two right wings, it appears the only way Wilson can get ample playing time is to take Joel Ward’s spot on the third line.