Burgundy Debate Club: Part Two, Colin Wilson

Welcome to the Burgundy Debate Club! We’ve again tasked a pair of our staff writers to present why, and then why won’t, a certain Avalanche player might find success this coming season. In this episode, NoNeedToYelle makes the case for and earl06 makes the case against Mr Colin Wilson. Take it away, Cincy

 

Colin Wilson has already proved to be a polarizing figure in Avalanche circles.  In my estimation he walks the finest line between the same old way of doing things from an organizational standpoint and a savy addition to a squad that could really use another veteran presence.  Today, I argue that the trade for Colin Wilson will prove to be a fruitful one.

I understand that the cost of acquiring a player has absolutely no bearing on what they will do in an upcoming season.  If you look at this trade in a vacuum a 4th round pick is not a lot to give up for a guy who can play on any of your bottom 9 forward lines.  I feel that the anger is misdirected at Colin Wilson for being the guy who was traded, when, in reality, the anger (if you have it) should be placed on the organization.  They have a bad track record of giving up picks for Vets and having it blow up in their face.  History is not guaranteed to repeat itself and I think the Avs have picked up a quality player at a very low replacement cost.

Colin Wilson has the experience and past production to help mentor a young Avalanche team.  The Avalanche will be icing a roster this year that will be one of, if not the youngest in the NHL.  Our longest tenured player is Matt Duchene and he has only been in the league for 8 years.  Colin Wilson is not another Jarome Iginla or Francois Beauchemin.  The oldest player on our roster is 31, next oldest is 28.  At 27 years of age Colin Wilson’s very best years are likely behind him, but he still has at least 2 years of high quality and experienced hockey in him.  There should be no concern of him falling off a statistical cliff here.  He has 8 years of professional experience and in each of those years he has produced a pace of at least 30 points per season.

Colin Wilson knows who he is as a hockey player.  With the pedigree of a former 1st round 7th overall selection in the draft perhaps there were expectations that were too great for him to meet.  He will never miraculously turn into a 60 point per season player.  But something about this makes me happy that we have him.  What makes me happy is that he knows this about himself.  In a recent interview with BSN Avalanche he talked about this issue: “With me, I think they maybe wanted a little more from me there in the playoffs in the last bit so I think both sides just kind of decided to move on.”  He’ll be playing in a role this year that will allow him focus on his strengths without having an expectation to succeed beyond his capabilities.

Colin Wilson is Reliable.  In his 8 years as an NHL hockey player he has played at least 70 games 5 times.  The other three season were: strike shortened, 64, and 60 games respectively.  In each of his 8 seasons he has averaged between 13 to 16 minutes per game. You can go into the season expecting that he will give you a full 2nd/3rd line shift night in and night out.

Colin Wilson may not be a sexy player, but he is going to provide a veteran experience to a young roster and you can expect him to take a positive attitude to the rink each night as a “3rd Line” Wing.  If he chips in 60 points over the next 1 1/2 to 2 seasons we either will not be worried about his contract or we could recoup the asset we gave up to get him.  For me this is a low risk, low reward move for the Avs and is not worthy of the scorn he received.

 

And now we will hear the counter-argument. Mr 06, you have the floor

 

It was a bit of a surprise when the Avs announced they had traded for Colin Wilson on the opening day of free agency. I don’t recall thinking at the time “Boy, we sure could use another journeyman forward” but there we were. From the Avs point of view it was a solid transaction, a meaningless draft pick 2 years hence for an established, though expensive, player. Considering the Avs were nowhere near the cap the money wasn’t a big deal to most fans. From the Predators point of view this was a hilarious trade. The Avs took on an expensive underperforming player and his cap hit for two years without getting anything in return. Even better for the Preds, the Avs actually gave them something.

Even so, Wilson filled a need at the time and we moved on. But did he? On paper the Avs already had two pretty similar players in Carl Soderberg and Joe Colborne. For the third year in a row we were looking at another big, offensively-inclined forward that hopefully would pay off somehow. Given the success rate with the previous two it makes one wonder at the logic here. Big doesn’t equal physical or solid defensively but each time this has happened we end up with a guy that has had success in the offensive zone being asked to change his stripes and become a physical grinder that can kill penalties and play the defensive guy role. Already we’ve seen this happen to Wilson. He has a sum total of 6:22 in PK time in his career and in his 2nd pre-season game he played over 3 minutes for the Avs. Like we’ve said over and over about Big Carl and Joe, this isn’t who he is. If you want to have success with a guy that’s offensively inclined, play him in an offensive role and stop acquiring guys that are big thinking that they can be molded into bottom line bruisers and shot-blockers.

Complicating matters are a couple of things that either did or did not happen over the summer. First of all, Matt Duchene was supposed to be on another team by now. I get the reasoning behind why he isn’t but that’s just another spot on a scoring line that isn’t open to Wilson at this point. Second of all, the Avs signed NCAA free agent Alex Kerfoot and he’s been impressive in training camp to say the least. Kerfoot was the guy they were really looking for when they decided to make the deal for Wilson, the pro scouting department just didn’t know it. While they were salivating over “OMG 221 pounds!” the lineup cried out for speed and skill. Now they have both and the forward corps is a little crowded with opening night on the horizon.

Right now the Avs forward situation is this. Kerfoot has found chemistry with Duchene and Yakupov as well as on the power play and his status in the lineup is about as solid as it can be for a rookie. The way Sven Andrighetto can stretch out the D seems to be a perfect fit with Mack and Mikko so he’s pretty set there for now. Landy and Compher can make anyone look good so that’s where Wilson ended up in the final exhibition, but he didn’t look good. Tyson Jost, relegated to centering the 4th line, took a few of his shifts there and did, potting a goal in the process. Everyone that would rather see Tyson Jost with Landy & JTC than on the 4th, please raise your hand. I thought so, where does that leave Colin Wilson?

Wilson is 27 years old, at the beginning of expected decline and perhaps headed towards a bottom 3 role with 2 years left on an almost $4M per season contract. The contract isn’t a problem for the Avs currently with around $4M of cap room (until the injured get healthy) and no major contracts up for renewal next summer but it’s a major deterrent for a trade until the 2019 deadline. Avs management has shown little ability or interest in accumulating draft picks so the likely outcomes are that he plays his contract to expiration or returns another expiring contract in 2019 rather than getting something like a 4th round choice back.

Over his career Wilson has averaged a hair less than a half point per game playing around 13 minutes a night at even strength and 2 minutes on the power play. 30% of his points have come on the PP so that would seem to be key to his overall production. Safe to say if you take away his power play time and make him a 4th line grinder/PK dude his production could be halved, probably in the teens somewhere for points. Wow! So that’s what happened to Carl. And Colborne!

So the Avs choices become make the same mistake 3 years in a row to the tune of over $11M this year or commit themselves to giving Wilson 2nd/3rd line minutes and significant PP time and hope he can take advantage of it. If he can’t the staff will just have yet another blunder by the pro scouting department and the organization’s talent evaluation crew to deal with.

/ / / / / /

Thanks, gents. What say you, dear reader? Will Colin Wilson produce like he has in the past and net an acceptable return in 18 months time, or will he be a boat anchor that blocks younger talent or gets square-pegged into a role he’s not suited for?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. I hope Wilson will be useful, regardless of role. The forward roster definitely seems to be a donut, hopefully a few players among Wilson, Nieto, Colbourne, Comeau can elevate their game to be productive 3rd liners. If nothing else, Wilson can take Comeau’s spot next year after a deadline deal.

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  2. AceODale says:

    I agree that after last season, acquiring Wilson looked like a reasonable move. But now that we’re facing the opening roster, there are some question marks about the trade.

    Wilson did not look good in preseason, but was that due to his being guaranteed a roster position? Not wanting to risk an injury in meaningless games? Is he not fully rehabbed from injury/playoff hangover?

    Let’s see how he does in the first quarter of the season and how the coaching staff utilizes him.

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  3. mikeatmhh says:

    In hindsight, should the team NOT have gone after Kerfoot? That seems to be an important linchpin in the bad fit for Wilson.

    Like

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