Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wilson has something to prove in 2011-12 season

Colin Wilson was one of three players to play in all 82 regular season games last year for the Preds. However, when the first round of the playoffs came, Wilson found himself scratched for the entire series.

"One of the things that played in Willy's favor last year to play 82 games was that we ran out of bodies," said Predators head coach Barry Trotz. "Sometimes you get in a position where you get a little bit of a free pass because there's no one else to put in there."

Wilson was drafted by the Predators in the 1st round(7th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft. He had an illustrious career playing college hockey at Boston University, where he helped the Terriers win the national championship in his final year there. He was a Hobey Baker finalist, and had a tremendous amount of hype around him coming into the 2009-10 NHL season.

In his first year of seeing NHL action, Wilson had 15 points in 35 games. Last year, Wilson had 34 points in 82 games, but was often criticized for his apparent lack of effort. When he found out he wasn't going to be in the line-up for the playoffs, he wasn't happy.

"He didn't like the fact that he didn't play in the playoffs and, to me, I frankly don't care. What I do care about is that he gets better, and he wasn't going to get any better until he realized that he's got to put a little bit more into his overall game and be a bigger factor," Trotz said.

While he is entering his third year of NHL action, Wilson is still only 21 years of age. He wasn't at all happy that he didn't see playoff action until Game 4 of the Vancouver series. However, once he came back, he seemed to be a truly driven player.

"I realized that it's a privilege to be in the line-up. You've got to earn it. It gave me a little bit extra jump and made me realize that every single game I have to play as hard as I can," Wilson said. "As soon as I came back, I was playing my all around game."

The change in Wilson's play didn't go unnoticed by the coaching staff.

"Once he got over it and I knew he was ready to play and get back in, if we would have got by Vancouver I don't think I would have got him out of the line-up because he was determined to stay in the line-up," Trotz said. "That's the growth. It was no different than Ryan Suter a number of years back, and Ryan's turned out to be a pretty good player."

It's clear that Trotz was trying to send a message to Wilson during last year's playoffs. If you're not going to be a two-way player, and bring a good effort to the rink every night, then you're simply not going to play for him. It's the Predator way.

Trotz's message is one that Wilson won't soon forget. He's had all summer to think about it. But, will it be something that still motivates Wilson to succeed this upcoming season? You bet.

"It was all summer. It is during training camp. I realized I was getting healthy near the end there and I had to pick up my game, even though I played in all 82. I want to score more goals, be a better defensive player and just take care of my all around game," Wilson said.

Trotz knows that Wilson can be a great player for the Predators' organization. While he may have been a little disappointed in Wilson's game last year, that doesn't mean he doesn't expect big things from him this year.

"I expect him to have a really good season. I expect him to be all-engaged," Trotz said.

An angry Colin Wilson with something to prove could be good news for Nashville. Wilson has a lot of offensive upside, which is something the Predators can always use. However, Wilson's overall game will have to improve drastically from last year.

Sometimes all it takes to get a player's attention is to make them ride the pine. It looks like Trotz has Wilson's attention. Now, we'll just have to wait and see if Wilson truly took that message to heart.

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