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Whalers Coach Vellucci Gives Insight On Wilson
For the first time since 2008, the Washington Capitals had two first-round picks in the NHL Draft. With their second pick (16th overall), they selected Thomas Wilson from the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. NHL Central Scouting had Wilson ranked as the 33rd best North American skater at this year’s draft in its mid-season rankings. When the final rankings came out, Wilson had catapulted himself into 15th. He’s a physical winger who has developed quite a scoring touch over the course of this past season. Wilson will spend the 2012-2013 season back in Plymouth where he will hone his skills and prepare to make the jump to Hershey in the near future.
During the course of this hectic weekend, I spoke with Mike Vellucci, the head coach and general manager of the Plymouth Whalers, where he gave his personal insight with regards to one of the newest members of the Capitals organization:
For fans who may not be familiar with Tom’s game, can you talk about his style of play, what fans can expect from him, and who would you compare him to in the NHL and why?
“First off, for our team he is a power forward that is one of the best body-checkers in the league, that’s for sure. He’s 6’4”, 215 lbs. and plays very mean and very tough. In the playoffs he definitely showed us that he could score. I think that if I had to compare him to anybody it would be Milan Lucic or maybe a Dustin Brown.”
In their mid-season rankings, the NHL Central Scouting had listed him as the 33rd best North American skater in the draft. When the final rankings had come out, Thomas was listed as number 15. In your opinion, what did you see from him that caused his draft stock to rise so high and be selected in the first round?
“Two things. Number one was his playoffs were outstanding. He ended up being our leading scorer when we had two forwards out with injuries, so that was a big factor. The other thing was his strength and conditioning at the combine. I think that showed them that he’s committed, not just on the ice but off the ice and he works hard at it. He’s a big, powerful guy and he was one of the top physically conditioned players at the combine.”
What are some weaknesses in Thomas’ game that you think he needs to work on in order to make it to the next level of his career?
“Well, you know, consistency at his age and I think his skating could always improve. His strength, you know, he’s still growing. And he needs to work on his overall game: his hands and his offensive game can improve- puck protection and all of those little things.”
What kind of guy is Thomas in the locker room and outside of the rink?
“He’s a pretty good guy in the locker room. Everybody likes him and he’s a leader. Outside of the rink he’s a funny and happy-go-lucky guy, but when he gets into game mode he becomes pretty nasty.”
Washington is currently in a “win now” mode. There are many fans and journalists who feel that the window for the Capitals to win the Stanley Cup is getting smaller with each passing year. How well do you think can Thomas adjust to that type of pressure?
“I think that he’ll do fine. He wants to win as badly as anyone that I’ve ever coached, so I don’t think that it’s going to be a problem. I don’t think you will see any pressure on him because he puts it on himself every game to try to win. He’s a team guy so I think he will fit in perfect.”
Is there anything else you would like to tell Capitals fans to may give some more insight into Thomas as a player or a person?
“I’ve said it to a couple of NHL scouts before that he a kid that you would be happy to call your son because he’s very well-mannered off of the ice and very respectful. He’s a great leader and good person off of the ice. But when game-time comes he turns pretty nasty and he will do anything to win the game.”
If what everyone is saying about Thomas Wilson turns out to be true, the rest of the NHL will have their hands full trying to contain this: