Finding a way to score goals at the NHL level has been a long time coming for Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Scott Wilson. He’s been one of the best scorers down in the AHL over the last two seasons. Prior to being recalled this year, Wilson had 22 goals in 34 games, which lead the league.
Even after being recalled and not playing in the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins’ last 18 games, Wilson remains just a few goals behind the current AHL leading scorer.
The last few years have been quite a transition for Scott Wilson, the Penguins 7th round draft pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft. Once considered an afterthought, many believe he has top-six NHL potential. This has been due to Wilson’s work ethic and desire to be the best and show NHL teams they were wrong to pass on him for so long.
Scott Wilson’s NHL Debut
To say his first NHL game was forgettable is an understatement. Fellow Penguins teammates first pranked Wilson and sent him out for warmups by himself, where he skated alone for about a minute.
Nothing says "Happy 1st NHL game" quite like a little prank from the team! Congrats to Scott Wilson!https://t.co/E88wuQba6P
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 2, 2014
However, his real NHL debut would have to wait because he suffered an injury during the second period. Scott Wilson only played 4:21 in his NHL debut and that game was his first and only during the 2014-15 season.
Scott Wilson’s 2015-16 Season
The start of Wilson’s 2015-16 NHL season had been quite underwhelming. In 12 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Wilson had just one assist while averaging roughly nine minutes of ice time per game on the third or fourth line.
But in the last three games, Wilson’s been slowly finding his scoring touch. He’s scored a goal in the Penguins last three games against the Detroit Red Wings, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Buffalo Sabres. Obviously some of this production comes from being in the right place at the right time, but that’s what Wilson brings to the ice, he’s got a very high hockey IQ.
Here’s what Wilson said following their most recent game beating the Sabres 4-3.
It’s a lot easier (to score) when Tanger is giving me open nets like that. You’ve got to be ready to shoot at all times. Sometimes you don’t even know if it’s possible for the puck to get to you, but you’ve got to stick it in your head that it’s probably going to get through. I knew when Tanger kind of opened up there, I was able to slide off, and I knew he saw me.
Now this isn’t to say that Wilson is magically going to become a goal per-game player, but he’s slowly gaining confidence and should be a regular contributor at the NHL sooner rather than later.
I asked an NHL pro scout about the Penguins trio of young offensive scorers currently with the team. Here’s what they had to say.
I look at a guy like Bryan Rust as a depth guy, he’s 23 and has had a fairly large sample size and has not been able to become a consistent offensive threat. He’s got a lot of speed, but you need more than speed to thrive at the NHL level.
Then you look at guys like Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson and I see them as prospects. Both have been great offensive players at the AHL level, all they need to do is transition their games’ to the NHL level. Both (at least) have solid top-nine potential in my eyes.
It’s high praise for two young players like Wilson and Sheary. Both aren’t surefire NHL top scorers, but it’s interesting to see their reputation outside of Pittsburgh.
For Scott Wilson, he’s made it up to the Penguins due to injuries and it doesn’t look like he will be returning to the AHL anytime soon if he continues to produce.
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Michael Pityk is an analyst who has written for numerous sites since beginning his professional career. He’s acted as a credentialed member of the media for the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Penguins. His work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The Sports Journal, MSN, PensLabyrinth, Montreal Hockey Talk, ESPN Pittsburgh, The Hockey Writers, Todays SlapShot and The Bleacher Report. He formerly was the editor of Pens Labyrinth and an analyst for The Sports Journal. Michael presently acts as an NHL Analyst for The Hockey Writers