Caps' Wilson Tries to Find Place to Fit In

September 18, 2013

Tom Wilson played in three playoff games for the Capitals last year.

Opening-night rosters across the NHL must be set by Sept. 30, which leaves the Capitals with less than two weeks to make final decisions.

Forward prospect Tom Wilson has continued to impress through two preseason games, showcasing his physicality and his scoring touch while not looking out of place among Washington’s top stars.

“The Caps have a deep lineup,” Wilson said after accounting for one of the Capitals’ two goals in Tuesday’s shootout loss to the Bruins in Baltimore. “There’s a lot of great players, and I’m just trying to fit in any way I can.”

Coach Adam Oates was much less modest, saying Wilson is ready to move on from junior hockey, where the 6-foot-4, 217-pounder dominated with 58 points in 48 regular-season games with OHL Plymouth last year.

“I like what I see in Willy enough that I would like to keep him around us,” Oates said.

Under an age-limit agreement between the NHL and Canadian Hockey League, Wilson can stick with the Capitals or return to Plymouth, where he must stay for the rest of the OHL season. If he does remain in Washington, the Capitals will have to shed salary to fit the 19-year-old under the cap.

Given the logjam on the right side with Alex Ovechkin, Troy Brouwer, Eric Fehr and Joel Ward, there is uncertainty over how much playing time Wilson should merit and whether it might be better for his development if he were to play more minutes back in juniors.

With so many factors at play, Oates acknowledged Tuesday that “there’s no perfect formula” on how to handle a young player’s development.

Adam Vingan is an NHL.com Washington correspondent, the Capitals beat reporter for Express, and writes Capital Games for NBC Washington.
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