Capitals

Quick Links

Tom Wilson vows he will never lose the physical aspect of his game

Tom Wilson vows he will never lose the physical aspect of his game

Tom Wilson has shown he has the skill to be a top-six NHL forward over the course of his career. Before the NHL season was paused due to the coronavirus, Wilson had already reached the 20-goal mark for the second consecutive season and had set a new career-high of 44 points. But regardless of how many goals he scores or how much he produces, Wilson is always going to be known for his physical style of play.

And that's just fine with him.

Wilson joined the University of Maryland head football coach Mike Locksley on Tuesday in Locksley's Instagram show "Late Night with Locks." Since Locksley is a football coach, not surprisingly one thing he wanted to talk about was Wilson's physical play.

"I'm definitely never going to lose that part of my game," Wilson said. "It's something that's natural to me and something that I love. "

Wilson made his NHL debut in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. An 18-year-old still honing his skills, it was clear head coach Adam Oates had not inserted Wilson into the lineup for his offense. Instead, Wilson provided a big body and big hits.

Even at a young age, that was a vital part of Wilson's skill set.

"Throughout my career as a kid growing up, I always just loved the hard aspect of the game," Wilson said. "I just wanted to go out there and play tough and be tough to play against. I took a lot of pride in that part of my game. That's part of the reason that I got to where I am now."

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST

The league, however, does not love it as much as Wilson does. He has been suspended four times over the course of his career including a 20-game suspension in 2018 for a hit he delivered to St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in a preseason game. The suspension was reduced to 14 games on appeal, but the message was clear. Wilson needed to change his game.

"You come into the league and everybody builds their own reputation," Wilson said.

He added, "You get a couple suspensions and stuff like that, it was a tough year, it seemed like it was spiraling out of control a little, but that happens. You learn from it and you adapt."

Adapting for Wilson, however, did not mean cutting out the hits or the fights entirely and he still has no intention of doing so because ultimately that's what makes him so valuable.

Being able to score 20 goals in the NHL is valuable, but there are lots of players who can do that. Being able to score 20 goals while providing the type of physical presence that Wilson does makes him very unique in this era of hockey. Since returning from his suspension in 2018, Wilson has avoided trouble with the Department of Player Safety. Managing to remain a physical threat while staying out of trouble and also providing the type of offense that justifies a spot in the top-six takes constant work, but it is a task Wilson is up for.

"That's all you can really do is just try and keep getting better, develop the skill side and keep complimenting the good players that I'm fortunate to be on the ice with," he said. "The rest of it will fall into place."

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Brenden Dillon indicates he is open to re-signing with Capitals

Brenden Dillon indicates he is open to re-signing with Capitals

With a training camp in July, a delayed postseason, an abbreviated offseason, a flat salary cap all in the midst of a pandemic, the future is uncertain for pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Brenden Dillon. While not much is known right now, there is one thing he does know and that is that he really likes it in Washington.

"I'm happy with being a Washington Capital," Dillon said. "From Day 1 when I came here in the trade, they've made me feel right at home. I think the system, the way we play from the D-core on, I feel a big part of things here."

Dillon was with the San Jose Sharks since 2014 before he was traded. The reality that he would most likely be playing somewhere else in 2020-21 came to a head when the Sharks bottomed-out and sold him at the trade deadline to Washington. Now, his future is uncertain.

RELATED: CAPS RELEASE PHASE 3 ROSTER

At 29 years old, the next contract was likely going to be Dillon's last big one. He is on the last year of a five-year contract that carries a cap hit of $3.27 million per year. In a normal offseason, he likely would have sought another long-term deal with a raise. This, however, will not be a normal offseason and it is suddenly unclear what kind of money players will be able to get on the open market.

Dillon said he is trying not to concern himself with the uncertainty of free agency.

"I've had so much other things I've been worried about," he said. "Just the world in general and touching base with family and friends and everything."

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST

Dillon has played primarily on the top pair with John Carlson since he was brought in. Though the pandemic has limited him to just 10 games of action with the Caps, both sides seem to have left a favorable impression. When asked about his future, Dillon indicated he would be open to re-signing.

"The kind of mutual talks amongst my agent and [general manager Brian MacLellan], those things are confidential with them," Dillon said. "But for me as a player and being part of the Caps, it's been awesome and hopefully can be here."

Though he fits in nicely as a top-four defenseman, re-signing him would add another body into a logjam of left-shooting defensemen within the franchise.

Dmitry Orlov, Michal Kempny, Jonas Siegenthaler, Marin Fehervary and Alex Alexeyev are all left defensemen and all but Siegenthaler are under contract beyond this season. Siegenthaler is a restricted free agent who will almost certainly be re-signed. Re-signing Dillon exacerbates the issue, but top-four defensemen are hard to find and if a proven player like Dillon is interested in re-signing, that is hard to pass up if you can get the numbers to work.

The possibility of there being interest in Dillon returning to Washington beyond this season adds to the importance of the 2020 postseason. This may not just be a quest for the Cup, but an audition for those left defensemen to see who the team may want to keep for the future.

"For a lot of us going into this free agency, there's going to be a lot of questions from not just the players' side, but the team side and the planning that goes into these things," Dillon said. "That's above my pay grade and I'll kind of cross that bridge when I get there."

Stay connected to the Capitals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Lars Eller intends to leave bubble for the birth of his second child

Lars Eller intends to leave bubble for the birth of his second child

The disruption to the NHL season because of the coronavirus has affected more than just the postseason. For Lars Eller, it will mean having to leave the team in order to be with his family for the birth of his second child.

The 2020 postseason is scheduled to begin Aug. 1. Eller's wife is due on Aug. 8, the same day as the Capitals' third round robin game. Obviously that means unless she delivers early, the baby will be born after Eller has left for Toronto.

Eller, however, expressed Tuesday that he intends to be with his family when the baby is born.

"We're working on making the necessary arrangements so I can be for the birth and come back to the bubble after that," Eller said.

When the whole point of the bubble is to isolate the players and limit their contact with the outside world in order to keep them from contracting the coronavirus, obviously this will present some challenges.

RELATED: CAPS RELEASE PHASE 3 ROSTER

Eller, however, is hardly the only player who is facing this dilemma. The season pause means several players who thought they were going to have an offseason baby now will be having their new additions during the postseason. While the NHL and NHL Players' Association were negotiating the health and safety protocols for the league's return to play plan, family access became one of the major talking points. It's hard to maintain a bubble if you also allow family members in, but players did not want to be away from their families for several months. Certain rules were written in that would allow players to leave the bubble and return if necessary and those are the rules Eller is now trying to figure out so he can rejoin the team after his baby is born.

"You're going to have to take a lot of precautions for when you leave," Eller said. "Depending on how you travel and you travel back and forth and who you're going to be in contact with and so on, I'll have to serve some time inside the bubble and test a number of times before I can join my teammates again and play games. We're working on trying to figure out how we do that the best possible way."

Players did have the option of opting out of the playoffs, but Eller elected not to take that option. For him, trying to win a second Stanley Cup is still a priority, it's just not more important than his family.

"We're going to have a new addition to our family here in a couple weeks," Eller said. "I don't know when it's going to happen, but it's going to happen. But at the same time, I want to be with my team and also committed to that and want to win another Cup."

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST

Stay connected to the Capitals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: