Approximately one hour before the Nashville Predators announced that they had matched the offer sheet given to team captain Shea Weber by the Philadelphia Flyers last week, the team announced that it had re-signed restricted free agent forward Colin Wilson to a three-year, $6 million contract.
For the second consecutive offseason, questions lurked about Wilson and his status with the team that drafted him seventh overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
In 2010-11, he played in all 82 regular season games, but was a healthy scratch for all but three of the team’s 12 playoff games that season. In 2011-12, he played in 68 regular season games and four of the team’s ten playoff contests.
When the team added forwards Paul Gaustad, Andrei Kostitsyn, and Alexander Radulov late in the 2011-12 season, Wilson found his role reduced and at times eliminated. Being in street clothes for the team’s most important games was disheartening for Wilson.
“With bringing in a few guys at the trade deadline that were brought into top-six roles, obviously my role kind of got taken away,” he said. “I have accepted that and I am just going to keep building from here.”
Following his end of season meeting with general manager David Poile and the coaching staff, Wilson said that he considered asking for a trade to get a fresh start somewhere else.
“I think at the end of the season, there were definitely some thoughts on both sides,” he said. “When I had my year-end meeting, we were talking about my future with the organization. Obviously both sides, after having some time to think about it, decided that the best thing was for me to come back and keep playing with the organization. Regardless of whatever thoughts we had at the end of the season, I think when everything settled we both realized that the best thing was for me to come back to Nashville.”
Prior to leaving for this year’s draft, Poile indicated that he believed Wilson was a big part of the future of the team. Committing to the Greenwich, Connecticut native for three seasons is indicative of that belief.
“I think it is a commitment both ways,” Wilson said. “We wanted to do longer than a one or a two-year deal. Obviously, I am very excited.”
Having Weber play behind him is another fact that excites Wilson.
“That would be a gaping hole to fill had we not gotten Shea,” Wilson said. “He is the captain and been a part of the organization the last six-seven years. He is a great player and it is going to help us tremendously. It is going to make us a much better team.”
The current makeup of the team has Wilson thinking the Predators will be contenders once again next season.
“Having gotten Shea now, who is one of, if not the best defenseman, and (Pekka Rinne) who is one of, if not the best goaltender, so we are looking good on the defensive side,” Wilson said. “Offensively, our top couple of lines are basically going to be the same that they were last year. The core is going to be the same, so I expect us to have a lot of success this year.”
After taking three weeks off after the conculsion of the playoffs, Wilson began training for the 2012-13 season. He has worked with trainer Bill Knowles who counts athletes like Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, and Alex Rodriguez among his other clients.
“He was out in Vermont and I went out there and trained with him for a couple of weeks and now I have just been on his program,” Wilson said. “Now it is just about getting everything feeling good and as well as getting bigger, faster, stronger.”