The Capitals did not start off the season like they had hoped. As the defending champs with largely the same roster, Washington was looking to avoid the dreaded Stanley Cup hangover to start the season. They did not.
Under head coach Todd Reirden, the Caps limped out to a 7-6-3 start to the season. They needed a spark to get them out of their funk. They got one on Nov. 13 with the return of Tom Wilson.
General manager Brian MacLellan raised eyebrows around the league over the summer by re-signing Tom Wilson for six years at a cap hit of over $5.1 million. To many, Wilson is nothing more than a glorified goon not worth nearly what the Caps were paying. Wilson, however, was a first round draft pick and seemed to find a home on Washington’s top line last season. Playing alongside Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, Wilson does not seem out of place at all, but was finally put in a position in which he could use the skills that made him a first round draft pick.
The Caps had enough faith in Wilson to give him a big contract, he needed to live up to those expectations. He came into the 2018-19 season with something to prove.
Things did not get off to a great start. In the preseason finale, Wilson delivered a high hit to St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist that earned him a 14-game suspension. When he finally returned to the ice, he needed to make up for lost time.
Wilson made his season debut on Nov. 13 against the Minnesota. He scored in typical Wilson fashion, with a physical play in front of the net that saw him crash into Devan Dubnyk. Wilson was awarded the goal and a goalie interference penalty in a bizarre turn of events. Wilson would go on to score eight goals and 14 points in his first 10 games back, tied with Nicklas Backstrom for the most points on the team during that stretch.
For the season, Wilson has already surpassed his career high in goals with 19 and, with 34 points, is one point away from matching his career-high of 35.
Oh, and did I mention he has played in only 48 games this season?
Wilson will always be a polarizing player. There were many who snickered at his contract when it was first announced and those people were probably laughing pretty hard after he was suspended to start the season. With 34 points in just 48 games and still at the young age of 24, it certainly looks like Wilson and the Caps will get the last laugh.
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