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Pariah or Prodigy?


“To me, he’s taken a step back…because it’s not about his ability, it’s about his mind-set and he’s taken a step back. He has to step forward.”

This was a very popular quote by coach Barry Trotz in the waning moments of the 2010-2011 regular season for the Nashville Predators, speaking of a player who would start the season off strong however his pace slowed and he was eventually scratched for nearly the duration of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

He had 4 points in the last 20 games of the regular season and went pointless in his only 3 playoff games. He saw his time on the ice dwindle from 17-18 minutes in his prime during the season all the way down to a measly 4-6 minutes during his drop-off.

Know who I’m talking about yet?

Most Predators fans know instantly. However, for those who don’t, I’m talking about young 21 year old Colin Wilson.

For who would be THE YOUNGEST forward on the entire current active roster, Colin Wilson has had two so-so seasons after being called up to the Predators from Milwaukee halfway into his rookie year with the team. Yet, for all the potential and skill that Wilson has, it almost seems that he has fallen out of favor with the team and is spending a lot of time in the Trotz’s proverbial “doghouse”.

There is no question that Wilson’s production didn’t just taper off in the last months of the regular season; it fell off a cliff. Of all the players in the NHL, of all the pointless-streaks for the highest-paid players in the league, of all the missed opportunities on the ice from the most skilled players, Colin Wilson seems to be getting the brunt of a lot of ill-wishes from the Predators fanbase.

Usually the majority of these negative comments are saved for the likes of the yearly defenseman who the fans love to hate and “can’t wait for him to be traded”. Everyone has seen this with players like Zidlicky, Hamhuis, and currently Kevin Kline. However, the sentiment with Colin Wilson is that “he’s not going to amount to anything”, “he’ll be traded”, “he’s a draft bust”

Colin Wilson will be a great NHL player, make no mistake about this.

For which team? We’ll find that out over the next few years. Whether the Predators will keep their stake in him and give him a little more time to blossom or dump him for whatever they can get for him, Wilson will find a home and he will prosper in this league.

Follow me, if you will, to the 1999-2000 season. David Legwand was the YOUNGEST player on the roster and it was his rookie year as well. He played 71 game, had 28 points, and was a -6. The following year? 81 games, 41 points, +1. Did he have streaks where he didn’t score many, if any at all, points? Absolutely, he had quite a few LONG stretches of games where he didn’t score a single point, including a whopping 10-game stretch in the 2000-2001 season where he was a -7.

At that time, Trotz probably didn’t have the luxury of scratching him in favor of someone else (as his ice time was still in the mid-teens throughout the entire season), however IMAGINE if he were a rookie/sophomore and that happened today. Do you believe he would be receiving the same treatment? Absolutely, there is no question about it.

Still, everyone seems up in arms that Colin Wilson has had some rough patches over the past two seasons. Yet, let’s look at the positives. Wilson doubled his goal amounts, almost tripled his assists, and more than doubled his total points. Not to mention he increased his +/- by 11 from his rookie season (-2 to +9), increased his hits, increased his blocks, and double his powerplay production.

The negatives will probably continue to be thrown around, but the most realistic thing to think about now is that THIS is a new year, THIS is a new season, and THIS could be a huge year in the young life of Colin Wilson. He’s either going to strike gold or he will go belly up with the organization.

Everything will be answered with Wilson this season, he’s just another one of the handful of players on the Predators roster who will be having their contract year. Even if Wilson becomes just another Legwand, he can still be a major factor in the Predators lineup.