The Nashville Predators’ 2013 season has finally, mercifully, come to a close. The team compiled a record of 16-23-9, second-worst in the Western Conference and fourth-worst in the entire NHL. Though they weren’t exactly tearing it up in the early going, they sank considerably lower after Colin Wilson was injured on March 9th against the Minnesota Wild.
After putting up 15 points in 35 games during his rookie season and then spending two full seasons in Coach Barry Trotz’s doghouse, the 23-year-old Wilson was enjoying a breakout year in 2013 before his injury. His 19 points in 25 games were good for the team lead at the time, and his points-per-game average of .76 stayed ahead of Shea Weber (.583/game), Patric Hornqvist (.583/game), Mike Fisher (.558/game), and David Legwand (.521/game) through the end of the season.
The Nashville Predators’ record in games where Colin Wilson notched at least one point was 8-1-2. When he scored more than one point, they went 4-1-0. Overall they were 10-9-6 when he was in the starting lineup, demonstrating just how important his offensive contributions were to a team that struggled mightily with scoring. Along the way Wilson hit his first scoring milestone, putting up his 100th NHL point on March 8th against Edmonton, a game where he had two goals and two assists. That gave him 103 points for his career, which is where he would end the season when he was injured in the next evening’s game.
Watching the Predators play without Wilson in starting lineup was a painful experience more often than not. They compiled a 6-14-4 record after his injury, going one point out of a playoff spot on March 9th to 14 points out of contention at the end of the season. He remained the team’s leading scorer for weeks after he played his last game. In the end he was surpassed by only three players, all of whom played far more games than he did: Weber (29 points in 48 games), Legwand (25 in 48 games), and Fisher (21 in 38 games).
There’s no guarantee that the Nashville Predators would have been a playoff team with Colin Wilson in the lineup, given all the other injuries suffered by key players. But their chances would have been much, much better with him playing a full season. His impact on the team while he was in the lineup is enough for me to name him the team’s 2013 MVP.