Tom Wilson rarely plays more than 10 minutes in a single Washington Capitals game, but according to head coach Adam Oates, the big 19-year-old forward has nothing to gain from representing Canada at the upcoming World Juniors.
“For me, Willie’s an NHL player,” Oates said. “He’s conquered junior. Nothing against that tournament at all, [but] I think he’s moved past it.”
Wilson, not surprisingly, echoed his coach’s thoughts.
“It’s obviously a dream to play for your country but my priority is here in Washington,” Wilson said. “I think [the Capitals] had in mind what they wanted. I’m not really going to dwell on it.
“I’m wishing those guys the best and it’s going to be a great tournament, but I’m happy to be here.”
Wilson was drafted 16th overall by the Caps in 2012. He spent last season with the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers, for whom he scored 58 points in 48 games.
But one thing he never got to do was play for Canada at the World Juniors; he was one of the last cuts from the 2013 team that finished a disappointing fourth in Russia.
“After I was cut, so many [NHL] alumni were tweeting at me saying, ‘Hey, listen. I got cut back in the day two or three times,'” Wilson said.
“That was a goal of mine when I got cut — to make them kind of almost want me that much more this year and not have me available and beg for me. There was a lot of motivation to do that.”