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Capitals go tough with 16th pick Thomas Wilson

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The Capitals used the 16th pick in the draft on Thomas Wilson. (Associated Press) The Capitals used the 16th pick in the draft on Thomas Wilson. (Associated Press)

PITTSBURGH | Even in a defenseman-rich first round, the Washington Capitals couldn’t pass on big right wing Thomas Wilson with the 16th pick in the NHL draft on Friday night.

Wilson, listed at 6-foot-3 1/2 and 205 pounds, was a Dale Hunter favorite, as the ex-Caps coach and London Knights bench boss saw him plenty when facing the Plymouth Whalers in the Ontario Hockey League.

“Dale liked him a lot. Dale was over this morning, we talked a lot about him. What we liked about him is he scored before he got to junior,” general manager George McPhee said. “He’s played a couple years of junior now, he’s been on Team Canada’s clubs overseas. In the playoffs this year, a couple guys got hurt, they moved him up the lineup and he responded with seven goals. There’s a chance he can be a pretty effective player. We get a guy that can play, and he’s tough, too, it’s a harder and harder thing to find in our league now. But this guy might be able to do it.”

Wilson, who was voted the top body checker in the OHL and led Plymouth in penalty minutes with 141, has a reputation for fighting, hitting and going hard to the net.

He embraces that.

“I think most noticeably for me it’s my big, physical game. I’m a big power forward and create space for my linemates,” said Wilson, who at 18 is likely not done growing. “I like the physical play and don’t shy away from it, but I think I got some offensive potential to come the next few years.”

Here’s a look at his highlight reel, courtesy of Plymouth:

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