Tom Wilson made the Capitals’ opening night roster out of training camp, which is no small achievement for the right wing. But whether he will spend the full year in Washington remains to be determined.
The Capitals could still choose to send him back to the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers if they want. Until Wilson, 19, plays in 10 or more NHL games (regular season and playoffs) the season will not count as a year against his entry-level contract giving teams a little more flexibility on making decisions with junior-level players.
“Really 10 games is not a fair amount, it’s not, but I understand the rule,” Coach Adam Oates said. “Now he’s not playing as much. You don’t have the luxury of playing him 20 minutes tonight to judge, so you’ve got to be really careful with it and make sure where his mood is, etcetera. Quite honestly, we’re not perfect at it. I don’t think anybody is.”
Wilson skated 10 shifts for a total of 6 minutes 40 seconds and was credited with one shot on goal and one hit in the season opener. That’s not a lot of game time to evaluate anyone, but Oates says he sees Wilson making strides even through practices.
“I notice a difference in him all the time,” Oates said. “He made a play today that I went to [assistant coach Blaine Forsythe] and said, ‘He couldn’t do that two weeks ago.’ He’s learning. You learn at this speed and some guys are not capable of learning at the speed, it’s so fast.”
The day the Capitals set their opening night roster, Wilson acknowledged that even though he was sticking around for the earliest stage of the season he couldn’t suddenly alter his approach.
“I don’t think anything’s really changed, I’ve still got to work hard every day,” Wilson said. “In the NHL, anything can change from day-to-day, from hour-to-hour; it happens very fast. So I’m just going to try to do everything I can to stay in their good books and keep me around.”
>> The Capitals picked up defenseman Alexander Urbom, a left-handed shot, off waivers from the New Jersey Devils Thursday. Urbom, 22, has appeared in 14 NHL games over the course of his career but spent the bulk of the past three seasons with the AHL’s Albany Devils.
Urbom will report to the Capitals, according to a team spokesman. It is unclear what the corresponding move will be to fit Urbom on the 23-man roster.