The Columbus Blue Jackets got an up-close look at Tom Wilson this postseason. So did the rest of the league – his 15 points helped lift the Capitals to a Stanley Cup title.
Wilson’s two calling cards are grit and, now, playoff performance. NHL general managers have plenty of evidence now that rewarding those things in a long-term contract – rather than regular season production – is a grave mistake.
Dave Bolland’s big payday came from his former GM, Dale Tallon, due to his reputation as a playoff performer. He signed that big contract at 28 years old. His career-high for points was 47 – set when he was 22 – but hadn’t come close to it since.
Wilson’s payday is seemingly more egregious than Bolland’s – between his far lower career-high point total (35 points) and his RFA status. Despite his age (24), after nearly 400 games he’s more or less a known quantity.
The bad news for the Blue Jackets is that part of that ‘known quantity’ is a player with a penchant for dirty hits, and they’ll be seeing him for a long time – and frequently. The good news is that he’s not a good possession player by any stretch.
The better news: Columbus has a player who’s a far better – and cheaper– version of Wilson in Josh Anderson. Going on the scoresheet, they were fairly similar players in terms of points. Wilson’s total penalty minutes (187) also dwarfed Anderson’s (42). Then, there’s the advanced stats.
While Anderson’s numbers were perhaps buoyed by playing half of his minutes with Artemi Panarin and Pierre-Luc Dubois, his next most-frequent linemate at 5-on-5 was Brandon Dubinsky. On that same note, Wilson’s chart looks far worse despite playing the overwhelming amount of his time with Alex Ovechkin and either Nicklas Backstrom or Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Anderson’s contract situation is also far more favorable – he’s making just $1.85 million in each of the next two seasons, while Wilson’s new deal pays him more than $5 million over the next six.
Not bad, Jarmo.
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