Less than two months since the 2012 NHL entry draft, the Capitals have signed both of their first-round picks to entry-level deals.
Wilson, who was selected No. 16 overall at this year’s draft, stood out at Capitals development camp earlier this month thanks to his willingness to throw the body around. Listed at a towering 6-4, 205 pounds, Wilson made sure his fellow prospects felt his presence with more than a few glass-rattling checks over the course of the week.
At the conclusion of development camp, General Manager George McPhee said the organization was pleased with what they saw from Wilson.
“He is what we were looking for when we drafted him. He’s a big, strong kid that really competes,” McPhee said. “Boy, the first three or four shifts of the opening scrimmage earlier in the week I was worried that if he did that all week we’d only have two or three players left on the ice. But we got him to settle down a little bit and protect everybody else for the rest of the week. We like him a lot, great kid, character. He’s going to be a pretty effective player.”
Even with his size, Wilson needs time to develop and is not yet ready to turn pro — and the Capitals don’t want to rush him. He’s expected to play his third season with the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers in 2012-13.
“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.”