Sidney Crosby is feeling ill and his status for the game against the New Jersey Devils is in question. With that news, the Pittsburgh Penguins needed to quickly call up another forward, so they reached down to the minors and called up Scott Wilson.
You can be excused for not knowing much about Wilson- he's not a household name and there's not a lot to know just yet. The team's PR release gave a little background information:
Wilson, 22, has scored three goals, nine assists, 12 points and a plus-10 in 21 games with WBS. The rookie has produced two goals and seven points in his last eight AHL contests.
The Oakville, Ontario native made his professional debut with WBS at the end of last season, suiting against Utica on April 19.
Wilson, who stands 5-foot-11, 183 pounds, played three seasons of collegiate hockey at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell from 2011-13, helping the school reach the Frozen Four for the first tie in program history in 2013.
Originally drafted by the Penguins in the seventh round (209th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft, Wilson finished his collegiate career with 95 points (39G-56A) in 109 career games. He was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team in 2012 and on the Hockey East All-Tournament Team in ’13.
The unheralded Wilson's fast rise to the NHL is a mixture of him playing very well as a rookie, and also the organization's lack of depth for forwards at the pro level. Wilson ranked just as #23 in our Top 25 Under 25 series this summer with the writeup:
Wilson, a 7th round pick in 2011, burst onto the season the following season in 2011-12 in his freshman season, posting a point per game at UMass-Lowell. Now, after his junior season, he decided to turn pro and signed with the Penguins.
Ian has a familiar refrain for Wilson as for most young players: he needs to get bigger and stronger. "Wilson is not overly big and will have to get stronger in order to match up against bigger defensemen in the pros. He is not an overly fast skater, but is strong on his feet and is good at getting on loose pucks."
It will be interesting to see this season how much Wilson's scoring translates to the professional game. In college he was a very reliable scorer, and if he can be productive in the minor leagues, it would bode well for his long-term potential towards becoming an NHL player one day in the future.
Not to toot our own horns, but the latter part looks like some good analysis- Wilson has been an effective scorer early in his AHL career (and being a +10 early shows the puck has certainly been going in the right net while he's been on the ice), and now he gets this early crack at the NHL.
Jonathan Bombulie in Wilkes-Barre also dropped some 4-1-1 on why Wilson gets the call now:
First off, coach John Hynes said Pittsburgh wanted a left-handed shot. I’m not sure how that fits into their planned line combinations for tonight. Maybe they’re going to reunite the Wilson-Ebbett-Megna line that was so effective for WBS for a little while. Whatever the reason, Rust is right-handed, so he wasn’t the guy. Same goes for J-S Dea, Josh Archibald and Adam Payerl.
If you just look at the left-handed shots on NHL deals, you’re choosing from Wilson, Farnham, PL3, Dominik Uher and Tom Kuhnhackl.
Farnham and PL3 would fill a very specific role. Fourth line. Tons of energy. Kuhnhackl has been more defensively responsible this season, but he has one goal in 18 games and it was an empty netter. So if you’re not looking for a fourth-line energy jolt, that leaves Uher and Wilson. Both would be logical choices, but Uher played his best hockey in the first couple of weeks of the season and has been trending downward a bit since. Wilson is on the upswing, so Wilson it is.
By way of a scouting report, Wilson does a little bit of everything. He’s a good passer, has a good shot, throws a big hit every now and then and is second to Ebbett among the WBS forwards with a plus-10 rating.
Getting that left-handed shot is important and must have been a key. With Patric Hornqvist, Steve Downie, Blake Comeau, Jayson Megna and Craig Adams all as RH shooting forwards, the Penguins were already on overload there, a rarity for an NHL team.
Wilson getting the call over Uher- the latter has been a pro for longer and been groomed longer too- is very interesting and potentially very telling of where Uher's NHL chances are. Bombulie notes that Wilson has been playing better lately, and skill-wise he probably is a better overall player than Uher, who has never been a point producer in the AHL level. Uher only has 3 goals and 3 assists in 21 games so far this season.
It will be interesting to see if Wilson gets to make his debut. Hopefully it doesn't happen at the expense of a Sidney Crosby absence, but WB/S doesn't play again until Friday and the Pens have two home games. With Megna and Brian Dumoulin also on the NHL team these days, all of a sudden the Pittsburgh Penguins have a Wilkes-Barre feel.