Oh, Colin Wilson. What are we going to do with you?
After nearly 300 games Wilson has yet to break the 20-goal barrier and pass his career high of 34 points. Now in a contract year, Preds fans seem to have thrown their hands in the air and given up on Wilson being a major contributor.
Statistically speaking, last season was Wilson's worst in the NHL. Through 81 games he had 11 goals and 33 points while shooting a dismal 9.8%. Wilson also had a less-than-stellar 48.4 corsi for percentage at even-strength while starting 54.2% of his faceoffs in the offensive end. Even though these numbers don't look favorable, Wilson has been knocking on the door of 50% CF every year. Kind of makes you wonder how he would fare in an offensively inclined system. Still, the fact Wilson started so much in the offensive end and still managed to put up those numbers is troubling.
Wilson was also coming off two shoulder surgeries in the previous offseason and turns twenty-five in the first month of the season, making him just young enough to still put the pieces together. While his NHL track record isn't by any means impressive, he can still be an asset to the Predators. Wilson's skill set, large frame, and ability to protect the puck is paramount to surviving the big and skilled Western Conference. But that's the frustrating truth with Colin Wilson. You can see he has all the skills and tools to be a successful top-six scoring forward in the NHL. But, for whatever reason, his abilities have yet to translate into offensive production. And you wouldn't exactly be wrong to wonder if they ever will.
The Predators and their fans hope Peter Laviolette's new system and new players in Nashville will breath some life into Wilson's game. One thing that will most likely happen is Wilson's shooting percentage will balance out closer to his career average of 13.9%. Wilson also needs to contribute more on the power play as he only had five points in 123:02 minutes of power play time and hasn't scored more than eleven in his career.
Wilson playing on the wing of either Olli Jokinen or Derek Roy are attractive options. Jokinen in particular is very capable of getting his teammates the puck when in scoring positions. Unfortunately, Jokinen has also been known to suffer from the same streakiness as Wilson from time to time. Calle Jarnkrok is another option but he will probably see more top-six minutes.
Of course, Wilson could find himself stagnating in the same middle-six role he hasn't been able to break. If this is the case, he could becoming trade bait to open up a spot for a younger player. Many in Nashville might consider Wilson a bust but he could still fetch moderate value on the trade market as teams are always looking to add bottom-six depth before the playoffs. Wilson also offers more offensively than your average bottom-six player. This is all assuming Wilson doesn't fall in the toilet this season.
Best Case Scenario
Wilson has a breakout season and scores between 40-50 points showing he still has something to give. The power play will be key for this to happen. From there, the Preds either then sell high on Wilson and trade him to a contender or he earns himself a new contract. That's where things get tricky. What exactly would that contract look like? I shudder at the thought. The Preds will have more important contracts to sign in the near future and Wilson has become too much of a gamble.
Worst Case Scenario
Wilson ends up stagnating, or worse, declining. Younger players will push for a bigger role and veterans hold steady forcing Poile to trade Wilson to get some semblance of value before letting him go. No matter what the scenario, I'm not optimistic about Wilson being a Predator next season.
Wilson puts up 49 points with 20 goals playing with Olli Jokinen and Gabriel Bourque. He'll also occasionally play center and win 50% of his faceoffs.
The Whale Shark. It's an impressive looking animal. It's massive body has all the ability in the world to destroy anything in its way. But this animal is just a gentle giant that doesn't live up to the destructive expectations set by it's goliath top-10 pick presence. No, the Whale Shark just allows lazy fish to hitch a ride on it's body then swims around while divers take pictures.