There have always been plenty of ideas about what Tom Wilson might become in Washington.
Now, GM Brian MacLellan has the latest:
Joel Ward 2.0.
“We miss Joel Ward — he’s the kind of guy we need in the playoffs,” MacLellan said on Monday, per the Washington Times. “You know, you make changes, and he’s a guy we wanted back and we didn’t get back. We missed that skill set.
“I think it’s on us to turn Tom Wilson into Joel Ward. It’s on Tom and it’s on us.”
MacLellan cited his team’s need for a “net-front presence” that “finds loose pucks and finds rebounds.” That was Ward’s forte during his four years in Washington, especially come playoff time, when greasy goals are at a premium.
Ward’s strength, size and ability to whack home loose pucks saw him score some crucial playoff markers for the Caps — none more famous his Game 7 OT winner against the Bruins in 2012:
Ward’s penchant for scoring in the postseason dated back to his time in Nashville, and was on display again last year when he finished with nine points in 14 games.
So it’s easy to see why MacLellan and the Caps wanted to keep him — but the Wilson comment might explain why they were willing to let him go.
At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Wilson certainly has the size to be a quality net-front presence. He also has some offensive acumen — back in his final year of junior with OHL Plymouth, he scored 23 goals and 58 points in 48 games.
After the year, Wilson’s head coach said he was the team’s best forward.
Now with all that said, it’s important to remember the lede — there have been plenty of ideas about what Wilson might be. He was drafted 16th overall because scouts were enamored with his ceiling. If he could reach it, the thought was Wilson could become a goalscoring power forward, PP contributor, top-six winger, etc. etc.
The issue, of course, is that Wilson’s played three full years in the NHL already, and he’s still a fourth-liner primarily known for his questionable hits.