Friday, January 15, 2010

Who is Ryan Wilson?

Let’s just get the basic data out of the way, Wilson, a native of Windsor, ON shoots left and is listed on the Avs roster as 6’1” and 207, he is 22 years old. Wilson was an undrafted defenseman playing for the OHL’s Sarnia Sting when he was signed by the Calgary Flames in 2008 and spent the season with the Quad City Flames. Look at that great pic from the Flames press release announcing his signing. Way to look alert Willie. Think the guys call him Willie? Haha, hope not.

Wilson’s time in the OHL with the Sarnia Sting was very successful; he led all defensemen in scoring for two straight seasons. His final season with the Sting saw him netting seven goals and 64 assists for 71 points in 58 games. Wilson also wore the “C” for the Sting for two years and totaled 220 PIM.

But despite a year on the Flames farm he never got a chance to play up in Cal Gary.

So how did Colorado end up with this sleepy tough guy? He came over when Colorado traded Jordan Leopold for Wilson, Lawrence Nycholat and a 2nd in the 2009 draft. Most Avs fans thought little of the two warm bodies that were thrown in to the trade. At the time I was thrilled to get a 2nd for Leopold after a pretty disappointing, injury-riddled stint in Colorado.

Wilson only played three games for the Avs farm team before being called up. He hasn’t been back ever since. Not even when the Avs had a log-jam of healthy bodies on the blue line. No, the big $$ John-Michael Liles got the healthy scratch and Sacco raised a few eyebrows with that move. But it’s hard to blame him, the kid is a player!

Looks like James Crider over at the Bleacher Report agrees with me in his midterm grades:

Ryan Wilson - B
Okay, former GM Francois Giguere did one thing right. Wilson was practically a throw in during the trade that sent Jordan Leopold to Calgary
last year, yet has established himself as solid NHLer in no time, and has arguably been better than Leopold ever was in his three-year tenure with the Avalanche.
He’s been paired primarily with Avs captain and grizzled vet, Adam Foote. No doubt he’s been learning a great deal from Foote all season.
We’re overdue to look at some stats: Wilson is 3rd in +/- and 7th in the league in rookie defensemen for points, but it isn’t just about points.
Wilson is third in the league in hits, and although he doesn’t have a lot of take-aways, he doesn’t have a lot give-aways either. I mean you look at a guy like Tyler Myers that is getting some Calder talk and the guy has twice the give-aways of any other rookie in the league.
Now compare him to a guy like Del Zotto who leads the league in hits, but has a lot more give-aways and I think you’ll see what I see: Wilson doesn’t hit guys just to hit them. He picks his spots and lays the lumber like we haven’t seen in Denver since Rob Blake left.

I think it really makes the opposition think twice about skating into the zone with the puck. Personally I don’t want the other team thinking, “Hey look, it’s Liles, I’ll just bounce off of him and keep going.” No, I want “Hey look, its Wilson…crap! I need to dump this puck!”

Steven Stamkos and Wilson played on the Sting together, here’s what he had to say in a recent interview:

If you could lay a big, clean hit on anyone in the league, who would it be?

Ryan Wilson with the Avalanche. He was my captain in junior with Sarnia
(OHL) and he hits hard. Would be nice to turn the tables on him.

I’ll bet, Wilson was recognized as one of the OHL’s hardest hitting defensemen by the annual coach’s poll.
So you want to get Wilson in your sites and line him up, eh? Good luck tough guy.

Avs fans recently voted a hit by Wilson as the play of the week.

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