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Tom Wilson has a real chance to make the Caps starting roster this season.
Of all the Caps rookies mentioned thus far, Tom Wilson is probably the only one who has a true chance to make the team and play in the season opener on Oct. 1 in Chicago.
Wilson, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft, played in three games against the New York Rangers in the playoffs last season and was rather impressive.
Will that translate into a permanent role in Washington this season?
Wilson was simply dominant playing for the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL last season. In 48 games played, he had 23 goals, 35 assists and an astounding plus-36 rating.
Wilson even got in some time with the Hershey Bears in the playoffs last season where he played in three games and scored a goal.
To top it all off, Wilson then got to play with the Caps in the playoffs against the Rangers.
There is nothing more Wilson can gain from playing in the OHL. Perhaps he could benefit from some more time in Hershey but even that is debatable.
Wilson might only be 19 years old, but in so many ways, he looks NHL-ready right now. At 6'4", 210 pounds, Wilson is a beast, and there are very few players in the OHL—or for that matter the AHL—who can match his size.
He has size, and he knows how to use it. He plays a punishing and physical game. He also knows how to get under the skin of the opposition and can be a bit of an agitator.
Wilson is also the type of player who will lead by example and who will quickly jump to the defense of his teammates. He is not shy at all about dropping the gloves and duking it out. He plays with an intensity level that the Caps have lacked for several years now.
And he is not too bad at all as far as skating, shooting, passing and scoring. All of this has him ranked No. 2 by Russian Machine Never Breaks as far as Capitals prospects are concerned.
If Wilson is to continue to make progress he must be tested by players who can actually test him.
NHL players who can match up well with Wilson don't exactly grow on trees, but they are most definitely out there.
Unlike Andre Burakovsky, who got placed on Team B in training camp, Wilson was placed on Team A. This means that Wilson gets to share ice time with the Caps elite players, such as Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Troy Brouwer, Martin Erat, Marcus Johansson, Mike Green and Mikhail Grabovski (once Grabovski sorts out his Visa issues).
Is that a sign that the Caps coaching staff feels that Wilson belongs with the Caps starters? It is hard to tell.
The big issue Wilson might face is the depth the Caps have as far as their bottom-six are concerned. The Caps have many options in this area.
The practical effect of this means that Wilson must compete with players like Joel Ward, Eric Fehr, Jason Chimera and Aaron Volpatti for a roster spot. Realistically, there are five players competing for three spots as far as wingers are concerned.
Like many of the Caps top players, Wilson did not play in the Caps 4-3 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday so it is difficult to gauge his progress.
All signs, however, seem to indicate that Wilson is being strongly considered for a roster spot with the Caps this season.
I think it is very reasonable to expect Wilson to be a part of the Washington Capitals this season and to make a significant contribution to the team as they contend for a playoff spot in a tough Metropolitan division.
Expect him to make the Caps' final roster and he will come out firing against the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 1.