First-round pick Tom Wilson is getting an invite to Washington Capitals training camp, though the reasons and fallout might not be clear until the weekend.
Wilson, 18, was the 16th overall pick in June’s draft from the Plymouth Whalers in the Ontario Hockey League. He did not make Canada’s world junior team last month.
But Wilson will be in Arlington for camp, the team confirmed Thursday after general manager George McPhee essentially ruled it out earlier in the week.
“That’s our team,” McPhee said. “There’s no sense bringing in the junior players and that sort of thing because they wouldn’t be able to make our team right now anyway.”
That change of heart could have to do with a couple of injury questions. No. 1 center Nicklas Backstrom saw a specialist in Michigan this week; he suffered what was reported to be a neck injury last month, but his concussion history is cause for concern. Brooks Laich also reportedly suffered a groin/adductor injury while playing overseas and appeared to test it on the ice Thursday at the Caps’ practice facility.
If either or both of those players cannot start the season, Wilson could at least get a look from the Caps, who don’t have a stash of extra forwards available with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. Washington has just 13 healthy NHL forwards, including Joey Crabb, signed in July.
In a normal season, Wilson could play 10 NHL games without using up a year of his contract. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, who was the first to report Wilson getting invited to camp, junior players will get to play up to five games without teams burning a year.