30 in 30: Wilson's health X-factor for Predators

Monday, 08.12.2013 / 3:00 AM
Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com Staff Writer

All systems were go for Nashville Predators forward Colin Wilson on his way to a breakout season before sustaining an injury in March.

The 6-foot-1, 216-pound left-handed shot was leading the Predators with 19 points, including seven goals, through the opening 24 games before a shoulder injury ended his run March 9, one day after striking for two goals and four points and being named the game's first star in a 6-0 victory against the Edmonton Oilers.

Wilson exited a game against the Minnesota Wild early in the second period after being checked hard into the end boards in the opposing zone by defenseman Justin Falk. Wilson had stabilization surgery on each shoulder within a span of a few weeks in April and began his core and lower-body offseason workout program in June.

"I'm rehabbing every single day and doing everything I can," Wilson told The Tennessean in June. "I'm ahead of schedule right now."

Wilson's surgery involves a four-to-six month recovery, and it appears he's hoping to be ready for training camp next month, five months after his surgery.

If the 23-year-old can pick up where he left off, the Predators not only would feel more confident about returning to the Stanley Cup Playoffs but being considered legitimate Cup contenders.

"I think we just started to see the tip of the iceberg [in 2012-13] for what he's going to be like as a power forward that has the skill and production we knew when we drafted him," Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton told The Tennessean. "There are so many different variables, it's hard to put a finger on it and say this is exactly why he started to take the next step. But I'd probably say his maturity started to take him to a different level."

There's a chance Wilson could move back to center, a position he played at Boston University for two seasons. There's no question that with Martin Erat now out of the picture, the opportunity is there to take hold of a featured role. Whether that's at left wing or center remains to be seen.

Wilson has the size, speed and offensive ability to relearn his role down the middle, but his consistency will always come into question. The native of Greenwich, Conn., has shown flashes of playing well in clutch situations and displays leadership qualities with a very mature attitude.

He entered 2012-13 having posted career-highs of 35 points, five power-play goals and five game-winning goals the previous season. Wilson was on pace for 30 goals in a projected 82 games last season, when he averaged 16:34 of ice time, including 2:22 on the power-play. He led the Predators with a shooting percentage of .269.

If healthy, Wilson will no doubt challenge for the team lead in scoring and offer fans reason for optimism.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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