Throughout the past few weeks, CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley has been evaluating the 2014-15 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown has occurred every day in alphabetical order. The series ends today with: Tom Wilson
Position: Right Wing
Age: 21 [turns 22 March 29]
Ht/Wt: 6-4, 210
Penalty minutes: 172
Average Ice Time: 19:56
Playoff games: 13
Penalty minutes: 25
Average Ice Time: 7:43
Contract Status: 1 year remaining on 3-year, $4,159,998 contract [2015-16 salary: $832,500; cap hit: $894,167]
Strengths: When he’s locked in and playing his physical brand of hockey, Wilson can be one of the most intimidating and effective players in the game. There were stretches, particularly when he played on a top line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, where Wilson was a true power forward, freeing up pucks for Backstrom and Ovechkin while also distracting opponents from marking his linemates. Wilson is also one of the biggest hitters in the game, evidenced by his mammoth check on Islanders 38-year-old defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky in Round 1. He finished fourth on the Capitals and 24th among NHL forwards with 205 hits. He also led the Caps in penalty minutes  and fighting majors , ranking fourth and sixth in the NHL in those departments, without putting his team at a disadvantage. More impressively, Wilson led the NHL in penalties drawn per game [1.9] for players who played in at least 40 games. His initiating [as opposed to retaliating] tactics allowed the Capitals to get on the power play, where Ovechkin [league-high 25 power-play goals] could do his damage.]
Room for improvement: Wilson saw his ice time increase from 7:56 as a rookie to 10:56 as a second-year player, but he admitted that losing three months of conditioning because of a broken ankle last summer affected his stamina. Despite playing in 15 fewer games this season Wilson increased his shot total  by 16, his goal total  by one and his point total  by seven, but his development as a projected top-six forward was marginal. In the playoffs Wilson averaged just 7:43 of ice time per game, second-lowest on team, ahead of only Michael Latta [6:55]. Wilson said he will spend this summer working on his shooting and stickhandling skills, as well as his skating. All three areas of his game will need to improve dramatically if he hopes to earn the full-time job as the Caps’ top-line right wing.
Memorable Moment: With 5:54 gone in the second period of Game 4 against the New York Islanders, Wilson steamrolled Isles defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky with a clean but vicious body check that knocked Visnovsky out of the playoffs and drew harsh criticism from the Islanders. Forward Kyle Okposo called Wilson “an idiot,” while defenseman Thomas Hickey said the hit made him “sick to my stomach” and Isles captain John Tavares called it a “complete target of a defenseless player.”
Quotable: “I know he’s an older guy. I have so much respect for him. He’s obviously been injury prone, but at the end of the day, he’s playing. He knows how fast the game is. He knows how hard the hits are. It’s the fastest game in the world and probably the hardest hitting game in the world, so those hits are gong to happen. Guys who have played the game who are on [TV] panels, they’re not freaking out about it. They’re not calling me a predator. They understand it was a pretty clean body check, just really hard. That’s the game that we love and that’s the game that we play. I never want to go out and injure guys but I’m going to play as hard as I can within the rules and get in on their D.” – Wilson on his hit on Visnovsky and the firestorm that ensued afterward
2015-16 Expectations: With a full summer of health and a lot of time in the gym and on the ice, Wilson is capable of making his third season in the NHL a breakout year. He’s also heading into restricted free agency next summer, another reason to put up big numbers. Wilson’s best years are ahead of him but next season could determine if the Caps see him as a top-six forward or are resigned to the fact his impact will come as a bottom-six forward.