Like many Washington Capitals fans, I fully expected the Caps to select a defenseman with the No. 16 pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
After all, the Caps certainly seemed to have addressed virtually all of their offensive issues by first acquiring Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars in exchange for Cody Eakin and the 54th pick in the draft.
The Caps then got very lucky as Filip Forsberg fell into their laps with the No. 11 pick.
Logic therefore seemed to dictate that the Caps would address their defense with the 16th pick, and most people figured the Caps would take Olli Maata from the London Knights of the OHL.
But as is often the case, you can throw logic out the window where the NHL draft is concerned.
The Caps surprised many of us by selecting a different standout from the OHL, Thomas Wilson of the Plymouth Whalers.
Since the pick was made, and upon further reflection, this is a great pick by the Caps.
In the two-round mock draft I did just prior to the actual draft, I had Wilson going to the Philadelphia Flyers with the 20th pick. In my opinion, Wilson fit the mold of a prototypical Flyer. His very physical style of play seemed to be a perfect fit for Philly as Wilson hearkened back to the days of the Broad Street Bullies.
Instead, Wilson is going to the Caps—and that is a good thing.
For years, the Caps have been characterized as a finesse team, a team that scored a lot as far as style points but could not break through in the playoffs, when physicality and toughness are at a premium.
During the 2012 playoffs, however, the Caps very nearly got to the Eastern Conference finals thanks to a very physical style of play that focused on shot blocking, smothering defense and a carefully structured offense that focused on not making mistakes.
Regardless of who the next coach will be, for the Caps to get to the Eastern Conference finals, they will need to be rougher, tougher and just generally more nasty.
All of that describe Wilson's style perfectly.
His profile card at NHL.com reveals that Wilson was voted as the "Best Body Checker" in the OHL’s 2012 Western Conference Coaches Poll and was a runner up for the "Hardest Worker" distinction.
Those are two qualities that Caps fans have got to feel very good about.
Wilson also won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, posting three goals in five games.
While Wilson might not be in the running for the Art Ross trophy, there is little question that he is a capable goal scorer who will get into the crease and will work his tail off to capitalize on the scoring chances he has.
Wilson loves to crush his opponents in the corner and he just oozes grit and determination.
Wilson's scouting report from thehockeywriters.com notes how much he has improved as a skater recently. The report also notes how Wilson's style of play is similar to that of Boston's Milan Lucic, and if that is truly the case then the Caps, and their fans, should be thrilled with this pick.
He might not be the blueliner many Caps fans felt the team needed, but he has all the potential to be a great asset and valuable contributor to the Caps as they reload for next season.