It was sometime after Nashville General Manager David Poile announced his team had traded up to No, 7 in the first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft that Colin Wilson
of Boston University was besieged with a barrage of text messages on his cell phone.
"I got a lot of text messages, including some from my teammates," Wilson said, talking specifically about his time with the United States National Team Developmental Program, not current Boston University teammates. "Jimmy Hayes
and James van Riemsdyk
were telling me that I was going to Nashville."
The Predators, who had traded their No. 9 and No. 49 in the Draft to the New York Islanders
to move two slots to No. 7 overall, selected a jubilant Wilson with that pick.
"I was trying to play it cool and calm after they called my name," Wilson said. "The fact they traded up for me really showed how much they really wanted me, which is great. I wanted to go to a team that had plans for me and, really, I feel like I can step in and play right now.
"It generally takes skill and a head for the game and being able to be strong enough, and I think I have all those tools to play. The NHL Combine maybe helped me a bit, but I realize it takes a lot more than reps on a bench press to make it into this League."
At the recent NHL Awards Show, Chicago's Patrick Kane
, the first player chosen at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, took home the Calder Trophy. He became the first alum of the NTDP to earn the NHL's Rookie of the Year honors.
Wilson hopes to follow in Kane's footsteps.
"The NTDP turned me into a hockey player," Wilson said. "My dad (former NHLer Carey Wilson
) taught me everything I knew up until I was 15 years old and, from there, my coaches at the NTDP took over.
"I didn't know defense at all, and the coaches stressed that unless I learned how to play defense, I wouldn't be able to play the game at a higher level. I was also taught puck skill and how to drive to the net. I learned how to become a power forward, and I'm grateful they turned me into the hockey player I am."
Wilson, born in Connecticut but raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is prepared to do anything the Predators ask of him.
"Whatever (Nashville) decides, I'll do," he said. "The reason I'm so happy and optimistic right now is because, no matter where I go -- whether it's Boston University or Nashville -- it's going to be a good year. I talked to the coaches as BU, and they discussed how the team is going to be great this year and if I go back for my sophomore season, I'll put a smile on my face and be into it. If not and I'm in Nashville, that would also be an absolute dream for a kid 18 years old."
Kane, who competed at the NTDP for two seasons (2004-06) and broke the single-season record for points (102) while equaling the single-season records for goals (52 by current Boston Bruin Phil Kessel
) and assists (50, by current Islander Andy Hilbert
) in 2005-06, offered some advice to his fellow NDTP alum while accepting the Calder Trophy last week.
"You enter the NHL and you're so worried about playing good that sometimes you get away from hockey and get so caught up in everything that you just have to remind yourself that it is a game," Kane said. "The NHL is the best League in the world, but so long as you go out, work hard and have some fun, things will work out. That's the approach I took last season and that's my message to the guys being drafted this year."
Wilson, who won gold with Team USA at the 2006 Under-18 World Championship in Sweden and silver at the 2007 Under-18 World Championship in Finland, is Central Scouting's No. 10-ranked North American skater.
As a freshman at Boston University in 2007-08, Wilson became the fifth player in the history of the storied program to be named Hockey East Rookie of the Year after posting 35 points in 37 games.
Contact Mike Morreale at firstname.lastname@example.org.