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2012 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Tom Wilson

Tom Wilson, RW

Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, 3/29/94
Bio: 6’4, 200 lbs., R
Plymouth Whalers, OHL
Rankings: ISS – 17; CSS – 15 (NA)

The Skinny: Few players in this draft class boast Wilson’s combination of size and sandpaper – but will his decent finishing be enough for some who would prefer to see more skill out of a first-rounder?

Few CHL forwards with in recent memory have scored so infrequently and earned as much interest as the Whalers’ Tom Wilson. Despite scoring fewer than thirty points during the regular season, Wilson is getting plenty of first-round play from NHL Draft insiders.

Why? Because he’s a big, mean puncher with plenty of grit and some decent offensive upside. Scouts are always on the lookout for the next Milan Lucic – and there’s a lot of similar promise in Wilson.

Wilson relishes taking the body on every play. He’s very willing to drop the gloves to motivate or defend a teammate and while his technique needs work, it seems all but assured he’ll develop into an energy-line stud at the very least.

He’s an excellent north-south skater (particularly for his frame) and effectively uses his size to shield the puck from defenders when on the rush. His agility and acceleration are both nominal at best but that’s what you’d expect from a youngster of his dimensions. Wilson is an absolute beast on the forecheck.

On the attack, he’s solid in both board-play and in front of the net. He’ll need to bulk up even further to face NHL defenders but projects very well as a bull at the top of the crease. That’s where he’ll score most of his goals. He’s decent off the rush (and possesses a power-move or two in his arsenal) but he’s not a plus-playmaker or a deadly sniper. He won’t deke his way through crowds anytime soon.

Defensively he’s still a work in-progress but his limited agility and quickness largely prohibits him developing into a plus defensive forward or penalty killer. He’ll make his money catching absent-minded attackers along the wall with punishing hits and while his hockey sense is far from elite, he’s responsible enough and if the team drafting him takes its time, it shouldn’t be a major issue.

While highly rated by many scouting services, Wilson appeared to be on his way to second-round status until a seven-goal, thirteen-point outburst in the postseason undoubtedly earned some Pavlovian responses among scouts and managers. If he’s selected after thirty, it would be an absolute steal for the drafting-team. However, he’s probably done enough to warrant a pick in the second half of the first round thanks to a GM drooling for Lucic-like truculence in a top-six forward.

Ideal Fits: Teams looking for bellicosity after pick twenty in the first round:  Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton.

Why Your Team Will Take Him: Because they see him as a Ryane Clowe, Lucic, or Scott Hartnell rather than a Mike Rupp or Ben Eager.

Why Your Team Will Pass on Him: Because they prefer to select someone with higher upside (or they see his as third-line at best).

Strengths: Physicality, Toughness, Finish, North-South Skating

Weaknesses/Concerns: Hands, Agility, Acceleration, Playmaking, Shot Release, Hockey Sense

Projection: Third Line Power Forward (20g, 45p potential)

Predicted 2012 NHL Draft Range: First/Second Round (16-35)

Overall Rank: 20

N.A. Rank: 15

OHL Rank: 6

Forward Rank: 10

Canadian National Rank: 8

Bob is the Boston Bruins correspondent for The Hockey Writers and a credentialed member of the Providence Bruins' Media.

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