If it weren’t for Colin Wilson’s performance in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs – five goals and 13 points in 14 games – the Nashville Predators wouldn’t have been able to advance as far as they did.
On the contrary, Wilson would be the first to admit his 24 points in 64 regular-season games in 2015-16 wasn’t nearly what he expects of himself through the course of an NHL season.
But Wilson, and those around him, know he’s capable of producing on a consistent basis. After a 20-goal, 42-point season in 2014-15, Wilson signed a four-year deal to remain with the Preds through the 2018-19 campaign, and the club is looking for more of the play that earned him the contract.
“If you look back to two years ago, Colin had a breakout year for the first 60 games,” Preds Assistant Coach Kevin McCarthy said. “That was the type of player we saw on a consistent basis, and we saw it in spurts last year. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact he had a lot of injuries throughout the season that were nagging, and that never really allowed him to play to his capabilities. With Willy, it’s talking about having that consistency from game to game.”
For the past two seasons, Wilson has proven himself as a clutch postseason performer. In the 2014-15 playoffs, Wilson’s five goals in six games against Chicago set a Preds franchise record for goals in a single series. He followed that up with five more goals, plus eight assists, in 14 playoff games last spring, including the opening goal in what turned out to be Nashville’s first Game Seven victory.
The skill set Wilson possesses is evident, and he’s likely to get ample opportunities to slot in alongside Nashville’s other top players as chemistry and combinations are built over the coming weeks. If the postseason was any indication, that consistency and ability could be back on display sooner rather than later.
“What he did in the playoffs is what we expect on a regular basis,” McCarthy said. “If he plays the way that he did the first 60 games two years ago, and like he did in the playoffs the last two years, he’d be that top line winger that we need.”