From Backstrom to Wilson, we’re taking a look at and grading the 2021-22 season for the players who played a significant role for the Caps during the campaign, with an eye towards 2022-23. Next up, Tom Wilson.
The Key Stat: 18 of Wilson’s 24 goals last season were scored at even strength, which not only was a career high but was second on the team behind only Alex Ovechkin.
The Good: Wilson continued to raise his game in 2021-22, setting new career highs – again – in goals, assists, points, plus-minus, even-strength goals and assists, and total shot attempts. That all fed into him having the team’s second-best Goals Above Replacement (GAR) and Wins Above Replacement (WAR), and the second-best goals-scored above expected. His performance this season even earned him an invite to his very first All-Star Game, which was both thrilling and hilarious.
Of course, no discussion of Tom Wilson’s performance can be had without talking about his penalty rate – and while he was still picking up penalty minutes at a higher rate than anyone else on the team, it marked yet another season where that number dipped. It was his third-consecutive season in double digits, with just two more penalty minutes than last season (when he played 31 fewer games). Heck, he didn’t even crack the top-ten around the League, which is a first for big #43. He was also one of just two in that top 20 who drew more penalties than he took… just one more, but still a positive.
The Bad: For all his production over the course of the season, Wilson still struggled to actually drive offense – which isn’t ideal considering his lengthy stint on the top line alongside Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. He put up a 54.2% GF, no doubt a product of being on that top line, but was sub-50% across the board in even-strength xGF%, SCF%, HDCF% and SF% – all while getting the third-highest rate of offensive-zone starts (behind his linemates). In short, while he put up big numbers… they could and probably should have been even higher.
The biggest “bad” of the year for Wilson, however, was the fact that he suffered an injury just minutes into the postseason, one that at the time seemed rather benign but was later revealed to be a torn ACL. Wilson underwent surgery on his knee a month ago, and is now expected to be out for the next 6-8 months – a huge blow to a team that has begun to rely so heavily on him, and to the fans who love watching him play.
The Video: Tom Wilson, 2021-22 All Star. Hell yeah.
And, y’know, beloved by the crowd…
The Discussion: Should Wilson continue to hold the top right-wing spot when he returns from his surgery? How much of Wilson’s lackluster underlying numbers do you chalk up to “puck luck” and how much is something to be concerned about? Speaking of concern, how concerned are you about his effectiveness once he does return from his surgery? And finally, what would it take for you to give Wilson a 10 next season?
The Vote: Rate Tom Wilson below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season – if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.