Forward Tom Wilson, the 16th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft and the Capitals' No. 2 prospect, joined the team at Kettler Capitals Iceplex for practice Thursday after being recalled from AHL Hershey. Based on Washington's line rushes, it seems fairly possible that the 19-year-old could make his NHL debut Friday against the Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
"You never know, right?" Wilson said when asked about the possibility of playing Friday. "Like I said, I’m just coming in here learning and not trying to get my expectations up or anything. But I’ve been watching every game, I love watching the Caps play. They’ve been very exciting lately and now I’m in the room and stuff and it’s very cool."
The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder has now been a member of three teams over the past two weeks. He scored nine goals and added eight assists in 12 playoff games with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League before joining the Bears once his junior team was eliminated. In three games with Hershey, Wilson, who played on the second line in Plymouth, saw time on the fourth time, scoring once in three games.
He received the news of his promotion Wednesday evening while riding back from Providence, R.I., with the Bears, who had just been eliminated by the Bruins in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Along with forward Joey Crabb, who was also recalled by the Capitals Thursday, Wilson drove to Arlington early Thursday morning and arrived just in time for practice.
Washington has an opening in its forward corps after forward Martin Erat left Wednesday's 4-3 loss to New York with an apparent left forearm/wrist injury. Eric Fehr replaced Erat on the second line, while Joel Ward replaced Fehr on the third. Coach Adam Oates did not confirm who would fill the hole.
There were seven forwards wearing white fourth-line jerseys at practice Thursday: Wilson, Crabb, Matt Hendricks, Jay Beagle, Wojtek Wolski, Aaron Volpatti and Brooks Laich. Hendricks, Beagle and Wilson took rushes together and could create a formidable energy line if they do indeed play together Friday.
"He moves well, too, for his size and he's got ability," Hendricks said. "[If] you get pucks to him in the corners, he'll be able to hold guys off and maybe take pucks to the net. I think with his game, he's going to be strong in front the net-point shots and such and causing havoc in front of the net."
If Wilson were to play six games in the postseason, he would burn the first year of his three-year, $2.775 million entry-level contract.
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