Nashville Predators forward Colin Wilson left tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild less than two minutes into the second period. He did not return to the ice and Nashville lost 2-1 in a shootout. All that’s known right now is that Wilson has “an upper-body injury.” Coach Barry Trotz said after the game that he would have a further update on Wilson’s status on Monday, March 11th.
From the way Wilson went into the boards and how he lay still for so long, it certainly looked like he could have a serious enough injury to be out for at least several weeks. Then again, Patric Hornqvist’s gruesome-looking knee sprain in a game against the Anaheim Ducks earlier this season only saw him miss three weeks, so you really can’t judge a book by its cover in this case.
What’s important right now isn’t the length of Colin Wilson’s absence from the Nashville Predators lineup. It’s how the front office and coaching staff are going to deal with the absence of the one player who has done more than anyone else on the team this season to drive play in the offensive zone. The team has lost easily its most important offensive player in Wilson, who has seven goals and 12 assists. Going into the game with the Wild, Nashville was 8-1-2 when #33 picked up a point – even better at 4-1-0 when he scored more than one point. Their record when he didn’t record at least one point? An abysmal 2-8-3.
Unless some other team decides to place another player on waivers that David Poile has had his eye on since some years-ago draft, there won’t be another Bobby Butler or Zach Boychuk waiting to be snatched up. That means we’re probably looking at a call-up from Milwaukee, where there are several choices. Matt Halischuk just went down and scored two goals in his first game with the Ads. Austin Watson has size and goalscoring ability. Taylor Beck is a smooth playmaker. Chris Mueller’s 36 points are evenly divided between goals and assists. Michael Latta is a banger who can score and drop the gloves.
Whoever management decides to go with, he won’t be a replacement for Colin Wilson. He’ll probably have a hard enough time just making up for last night’s loss of Patric Hornqvist. The team is going to have to replace his contributions piecemeal. Their track record this season without points from him suggests there will be rough times ahead until he returns – whenever that may be.