After a career high of 42 points and 20 goals during the '14-'15 campaign the bar was set for Colin Wilson. Then he netted five goals during the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks and the bar was set even higher for the 26-year-old.
With a new four year, $15.75 million contract going into the season, was Wilson finally the elite player that was promised in the 2008 draft? At the time the answer may have been yes. A year later, to put it bluntly, the answer is no and he probably never will be.
Kristopher Martel wrote a great piece earlier this year digging into the frustration that is Colin Wilson and breaking down why he will never become what the Predators expected of him. Kris hit the nail on the head. There's nothing wrong with Wilson not living up to expectations, but it does mean it's time to find a better fit for him and that may mean a permanent role on a bottom line.
To say Wilson had a terrible season would be an understatement. At times he was completely non-existent. Production issues paired with stretches of injury all but dismantled his season. Despite his forward pairings and how hard he may have tried, Wilson just could not get anything going. At times he looked lost on the ice, unsure, hesitant even, it was a huge step backwards from the Wilson we saw the year before.
Towards the end of the season we saw sparks of the Wilson that could produce a 42 point season, but it was only in glimpses after being removed from the first and second lines. Call it a wake up call or call it relief, Wilson played better than he had all season in the bottom six.
Before the pitchforks could be readied and the lists of reasons why it may have been time for Nashville to finally part ways with Wilson could be formed, "Playoff" Colin Wilson emerged. With five goals, eight assists, and thirteen points in fourteen playoff games, the never ending cycle of Wilson's inconsistency forged on.
If you could look past the blinding inconsistency, Wilson made some magic happen in the post season. The Predators may not have experienced the same playoff run without Wilson, you can't take that away from him. It wasn't enough however, to silence the questions regarding his regular season play. Moving forward, Wilson has to figure out the regular season, that's all there is to it.
Burying a short pass from James Neal against the Colorado Avalanche in April may have been a precursor to Wilson dominating during the playoffs. At the time it was just a nice reminder that he can still make playing hockey look easy.
He may not have given us much during the regular season but he did give us this one rare gem. Wilson isn't a super physical player, so laying out Jordie Benn of the Dallas Stars was just...it was something.
The entire regular season. It's hard to point out one moment in general when the entirety was just a wash, but this moment in November is a pretty accurate summary of how Wilson's season went.
Trending Up or Down
Trending down. If Wilson wants to have longevity with the Predators he's going to have to find a role in the bottom six and own it. He'll never be able to fix the issues with his regular season game if he feels too much pressure performing next to Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, and James Neal.
Currently the lower lines have a clean slate. The gritty, physical players Nashville was known for are now gone. The new era of the younger, faster, more skilled bottom six is forming. Wilson could slip into a third line role with the likes of Mike Fisher or Calle Jarnkrok.
Wilson and Fisher had a Corsi For of 58.5% in 142 minutes during the playoffs. Wilson and Jarnkrok had a Corsi For of 59.2% in 142 minutes during the regular season.
Utilizing the consistency of Fisher with a utility player like Jarnkrok could put Wilson in a comfortable spot to work on turning "Playoff" Wilson into Regular Wilson.
Final Grade: C-
The entire OTF staff will put their thoughts together and voice their opinions on player grades at the conclusion of this series of articles.