The Capitals have added junior prospect Tom Wilson to their training camp roster.
Wilson, 18, was selected 16th overall in the 2012 draft and signed a three-year entry level deal with Washington in July after he stood out at the team’s annual development camp. Wilson’s invite is something of a reversal for the Capitals, considering that earlier this week, General Manager George McPhee said he didn’t envision including junior players in the abbreviated training camp.
“There’s no sense bringing in the junior players and that sort of thing,” McPhee said Tuesday, “Because they wouldn’t be able to make our team right now anyway.”
In 30 games with the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers this season, Wilson has recorded 12 goals, 22 assists and 59 penalty minutes and he was one of the final players cut from Canada’s world junior team roster last month. Wilson is slated to play with Plymouth Friday night and travel to Washington Saturday.
The move was first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
What’s unclear is what caused McPhee to change his mind. The uncertainty of Nicklas Backstrom’s injury status after the center went to visit a specialist this week about the reported neck injury he suffered in Russia, combined with the fact that Brooks Laich is nursing an apparent groin injury, certainly could have prompted the move.
It’s also possible the Capitals, who like Wilson’s physical style of play and work ethic, wanted to expose him to an NHL training camp environment. During development camp, it was clear Wilson’s game required some refinement even though he possesses plenty of size and strength at 6-4, 210 pounds.
Here’s what McPhee had to say about Wilson in July:
“A guy like Wilson, we know he’s big and strong and tough, but we really want to develop him to be a top player,” McPhee said. “Sometimes if you’re thrown in too early, they become survivors. It’s not about the surviving — it’s about developing and seeing what we can turn them into. I don’t want them to be career survivors. We want Wilson, if he could ever be a top-six guy, that would be quite a package. He’ll go back to junior this year, play a lot, kill penalties maybe, get on the power play, score 25 or 30 goals, develop.”
On an unrelated note, here’s a time-lapse video of the ice being installed at Verizon Center.