Tom Wilson only got an invitation to Washington Capitals training camp when director of player development Steve Richmond insisted. Richmond told general manager George McPhee that Wilson could make the team.
The conventional wisdom was that the 18-year-old wouldn’t make the cut. Wilson knew the odds were long.
“I think it’s kind of day-to-day. I’m just trying to learn everything I can while I’m up here and enjoy it while I do,” Wilson said. “It could be any day that [coach Adam] Oates calls me in.”
That happened Wednesday afternoon.
“Thanks to all the fans and everyone in the @washcaps organization for a great week,” Wilson wrote on Twitter. “Wishing the boys best of luck in Tampa on Saturday.”
Before Wilson got the call, Oates praised Wilson for his performance in Tuesday’s scrimmage.
“He looked great out there, he skated great, he looked like one of the guys and sometimes I didn’t realize it was him,” Oates said.
The Caps first-round pick is listed at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds. He’s known for being a big hitter, something that’s hard to do against teammates in camp.
“Part of his game is being physical and we asked the guys to tone that down and he looked very sharp out there,” Oates said. “I was very impressed; very different than rookie camp.”
Playing for the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, Wilson has been trying to hone his offensive game, at the Caps’ request. The No. 16 overall pick in June’s draft has 13 goals and 23 assists. Of course, he still has 59 penalty minutes, but that’s way down from the last couple of years.
The kid likes to hit.
“That’s a big thing in my game in junior; I like to play physical. They’ve seen that. So when I come here I’m just trying to learn, pick little stuff up,” Wilson said. “Watching all the guys is a huge opportunity for me because they’re all top-notch, best in the world.”