Nashville Predators forward Colin Wilson played the 200th regular season game of his NHL career this past weekend against the Anaheim Ducks. Wilson, 23, is currently in the middle of his third full season with Nashville. The former first-round draft pick (7th overall) spent the first half of the 2009-10 season with the Milwaukee Admirals before making the jump to the big club and never looking back.
The last two seasons saw Wilson show plenty of offensive upside, but his minutes were limited by Coach Barry Trotz, who wanted to see more attention to detail from the young forward on the defensive end. That was especially true in 2011-12, as rental forward Andrei Kostitsyn and prodigal son Alexander Radulov squeezed Wilson out of any chance at a top offensive role in the run to the playoffs and throughout the post-season. He has averaged just 13:08 in 13 career playoff games so far.
This season, though, Wilson has been given a chance to shine on Nashville’s top line. And he has responded. His goal-scoring average has jumped by a bit – .27 per game compared to .22 over the first 185 games of his career.
But there’s a bigger reason to be excited that he has settled into a regular spot on the team’s top line: he’s blossoming into a reliable playmaking forward. Wilson is becoming the kind of player who makes the others around him better, creating space and threading crisp passes through traffic. This year he has been setting up his linemates at twice the rate he was when he first entered the league.
The Nashville Predators are 5-1-2 in the 2013 NHL season in games where Colin Wilson scores at least one point. Following the team’s 6-5 loss to Colorado he is on a four-game point streak, a career high for him. He looks to be the one of the cornerstones of the franchise’s offense for the foreseeable future, and if this season’s improvements in his game are anything to judge by there’s plenty of reason for Preds fans to be excited about him in the long term.