Tom Wilson got term.
He got a boatload of cash, too.
Now, the rugged Caps’ winger says, it’s up to him to continue to grow his game and improve upon the career-best numbers he put up last season.
“I love it in Washington,” Wilson said via conference call on Monday. “It's definitely a second home for me and I've had nothing but good times there. So, obviously, I was thrilled to get some term and continue to make it my home. It's nice to have that confidence from them. I think both sides are happy and now I'm just excited to be around for as long as possible.”
Wilson signed a six-year extension that will average $5.17 million late last week, making him the fifth highest paid forward on the Caps’ roster. The deal will keep him in Washington through the 2023-24 season, when he’s 30.
During the 2017-18 campaign, Wilson emerged as a key player on the ice and an important voice in the locker room. In addition to finding a home on Alex Ovechkin’s line, the former first round pick posted career-highs in goals (14), assists (21), points (35), plus/minus (+10) and penalty minutes (187). He also ranked fourth in the NHL in both hits (250) and penalties drawn per 60 minutes (1.78).
In the playoffs, Wilson missed three games due to suspension but still managed to produce five goals and 10 assists in helping the Caps to their first Stanley Cup.
As much as he already brings to the table, he’s got to bring even more to match the terms of his new deal.
And he gets that.
“Every year I've continued to grow my responsibility and my role,” Wilson said. “I've taken more on my plate every year and, with this deal, that's going to continue to be expected. I spent the second half of the year playing the majority of the time on the top line, and I felt comfortable there, whether it was with [Evgeny Kuznetsov] or [Nicklas Backstrom] and then obviously Ovi. …It's a big commitment. It's six years and that's a long time. Each year I'm going to have to continue to perform. The NHL is about consistency.”
With Wilson back in the fold, the Caps’ offseason work is all but done. In fact, the defending Stanley Cup champion is bringing back 11 of the 12 forwards from the championship run, the entire defense and the starting goaltender.
“It's really exciting,” Wilson said, “because when you look at that the beginning of this year, a lot of people were uncertain what the future of this organization was going to hold. We didn't know what kind of team we were going to be this year. [But] guys stepped up, guys grew into new roles and we won. We were supposed to be in kind of a little bit of a down period, a rebuild period, but we proved to ourselves this past year that we can do it, that we can play great hockey and a lot of familiar faces [are] coming back.”
He added: “It's nothing but excitement from my end, and the team's pretty pumped to keep moving forward.”
Now that his future is settled, Wilson can begin to focus on what’s next for him personally: his day with the Stanley Cup.
After watching the Cup make the rounds in Moscow, Minnesota and Winnipeg, to name a few of the stops, Wilson gets the Cup on Sunday in Toronto and plans to share it with family, friends and others who have been instrumental in his success.
“I have been following [the Cup] a little bit from the social media part of it,” Wilson said. “To be honest, I wish I could be at every single [celebration]. It’s been fun. I’ve been texting with a few of the guys and calling a few of the guys. It’s so much fun as a teammate to be able to watch those special moments with guys and their families and what they want to do on their day. It’s a lot of moments within that day that you’ll never forget so I’m pretty excited for my day to spend some time with it.”
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