When the Capitals took Tom Wilson with the 16th overall pick in last months NHL entry draft, they were sending a memo to the rest of the league that they were willing to get bigger and meaner.
On his first day of prospects camp Monday, Wilson played as advertised.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound right wing hit just about everything in his path in his first scrimmage at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, leaving potential teammates in his wake with one crushing hit after another.
Thats my type of play, throwing the body, Wilson said. Thats the first thing I think people notice when they watch me play. I dont shy away from the physical contact, for sure.
On his first shift of Mondays scrimmage, Wilson drilled defenseman Christian Djoos along the boards, then took out forward Barry Almeida with another glass-rattling hit.
He tries to hit a lot, Caps coach Adam Oates said. I like to see that in any player.
A native of Toronto, Wilson recorded nine goals and 18 assists in 49 games for the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, but it was his 141 penalty minutes and aggressive style that most impressed scouts.
Still, there was great debate over whether Wilson was a legitimate first-round pick or whether hed fall to the second round. The Caps ended that argument when they grabbed him at No. 16. Caps general manager George McPhee said he selected Wilson because of what he perceived to be a lack of nastiness in the playoffs.
When we were in the middle of the playoffs I made a mental note after the games, McPhee said. Remember these games when youre at the draft. Remember how intense they are, how physical they are, how demanding they are and make sure you get someone who wants to play in that kind of stuff.
Wilson still needs some work on his skating, but with another year or two of grooming, the Caps are hoping he can be an impact power forward.
Its going to take a lot of work to get him where we need him but he plays tough, McPhee said.
Wilson said hes looking forward to having a strong prospects camp and learning as much as he can in his first NHL experience.
Im real excited to be here, he said. From what Ive seen already its a great city and a great group of guys. Im just looking to play my game and make an impact that way. Its going to be a competitive week.