This is the type of production the Nashville Predators expected from Colin Wilson when they took him 7th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
Wilson scored twice in Thursday’s win over the Stanley Cup Champion Kings–their second in as many weeks–and added three assists in Tuesday’s big win in St. Louis, a place where they have historically struggled.
Unfortunately for Nashville, these games have been far and few in between during his young career. Plagued by inconsistency, and even finding himself in Barry Trotz’s doghouse last year, Predator fans are beginning to get a little impatient with him. Outside of Wilson’s two big games, he has a paltry two assists in the other 10 this season.
And true to fashion, Wilson and the Predators followed up the week’s early games with a disappointing weekend, scoring once in an overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild and suffering a home shutout at the hands of the NHL leading Chicago Blackhawks. In those two games, Wilson only managed to put one shot on net while scoring zero points and going -1.
This is not to say Wilson is a bust–far from it in fact. He seems to have found himself a home on Nashville’s second line, and compared to others in his draft year, he has been surprisingly productive. But for a guy that tore up the combine and impressed scouts with his NHL ready size, he has been maddeningly inconsistent.
His potential is tantalizing. There are games where he looks like he’s the best player on the ice, as he did Tuesday against the Blues. He effortlessly split defenders Alex Pietrangelo and Wade Redden before slipping a backhander behind goaltender Jake Allen for Gabriel Bourque to bang home. He followed that up with two net-crashing goals against Los Angeles and was rewarded with top line ice-time in Minnesota on Saturday.
Then he disappeared.
Since Hornqvist went down, the Nashville offense has gone as Wilson has gone. When he’s on his game, so are they, beating teams they struggle against. When he’s off, they can’t score. Going forward, the correlation only figures to strengthen as the old guard like David Legwand and Martin Erat aren’t getting any younger. Mike Fisher is struggling this year and Shea Weber is also off to a slow start.
Nashville has been eking out points through overtime and shootout losses this year. They have more loser points than ROWs, the first tiebreaker. More statements like the 6-1 destruction of St. Louis have to be made, and Colin Wilson must be a big part of that.