Is Colin Wilson the Predators' answer at center?

Over the past couple of days, Dirk and I have elaborated on the Predators' need for a playmaking center to anchor a second scoring line. Dirk wondered if it was Marcel Goc, while I proposed a couple of players that could be for sale.

In the poll yesterday, the majority vote was to stand pat in the trade market. In light of this I present you a third option, who is the top prospect in the Predators organization and fits the mold of what Nashville needs. Follow after the jump where we discuss whether or not Colin Wilson is the answer at center for the second half of the season...

The Subject


Colin Wilson

#33 / Center / Nashville Predators

6-1

213

Oct 20, 1989



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Colin Wilson 10 1 1 2 -1 0 0 0 0 0 14 7.1

Wilson, as you can see from his stat line, had an early season stint with the Predators until he re-injured his groin. He was sent down to Milwaukee for rehabilitating and has remained there ever since, slowly recovering from his injury. In 24 games played for the Admirals, he has 4 goals and 7 assists.

The Analysis

For a more accurate report, I recently spoke with Ryan and Eric from the truly excellent AHL blog Admirals Short Shifts (which I encourage you to frequent) about Colin's play and potential :

Ryan:

Here's my take about Colin Wilson so far.  Currently, he's playing his best hockey of the season...and this is a time when we need him to.  With all the call-ups, we need our remaining skill players to step up their games.  Wilson has played with almost everybody on the team at some point.  He did start out slow, and most of that we attribute to recovering from his groin injury.  He wasn't pushing himself as hard as he could/wanted to.  And he wasn't playing the physical game that we expected out of him.  But even early on, there would be a shift or two per game where he show flashes of his talent.
 
Now, 11 points in 24 games wasn't really the stat line we expected to see at this point... but there has been noticable improvement.  He's winning battles for the puck.  He's looking more comfortable on the power play.  He's throwing his weight around a little more often.   Lane will always tell you that there's a learning curve with the young guys, no matter how highly touted they may be.  While he may not be dominating the AHL right now, we are sure that Colin is only going to keep getting better, and he'll probably be a fixture on the Predators roster in the future.
Eric:
His talent is obvious when he gets into a one-on-one situation. There are not many skaters we've seen that can win a battle with him when he's on the puck. His decision making process has to get better - and I'm sure it will as he begins to understand how to use his talents most effectively.

He has a great opportunity to assume a leadership role with all the call-ups and injuries to the Admirals up the middle. Whether he is mature enough to take advantage is the biggest question.

In summary, Wilson's injury has held him back until recently and hasn't been producing as expected. He hasn't lit up the AHL like I anticipated him to, but in the last few games he's really come on in the absence of guys like Mike Santorelli, Nick Spaling, Andreas Thuresson, and Cal O'Reilly. Wilson very obviously has top-flight talent, but has had trouble translating it to the AHL game for one reason or another.

Pros

Sometimes your linemates make you better, and one wonders if that would be the case were Colin to center Martin Erat and Patric Hornqvist instead of Dave Scatchard and Peter Olvecky. Its hard to over-emphasize that Wilson's skillset is exactly what the Predators lack. He's a superb setup man with a flair for scoring goals, especially in the clutch. I salivate thinking about Wilson dishing pinpoint passes to a Martin Erat snapshot or a Shea Weber cannon, or cashing in from around the net like he did so many times at Boston University. He would be considerably cheaper than a deadline acquisition, as no players would have to be given up in the deal.

Cons

One of the knocks on Wilson is his failure to use that 6-1, 215 frame to his advantage. That would need to be remedied quickly as a Predator, as Coach Trotz's calling card is physical, defensive hockey. Also, the Predators would not be able to wait on Wilson to hit his NHL stride, as they need to win right now, not later. Colin would likely not fix the penalty kill problems the Predators have had like a Tomas Fleischmann could, and isn't as sound defensively as other Predator forwards.

Conclusion

If healthy, there's certainly a chance that Colin Wilson could prove crucial to the Predators' stretch run. And if he proves consistently prolific in Milwaukee, then there's little doubt the Predators should give him a call-up. However, both of those things remain to be seen and the best course of action for Nashville is likely to wait it out until after the Olympics.

What do you think? Vote in the poll and leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below...

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