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Capitals prospect Tom Wilson invited to training camp

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Loose Pucks,Sports,Brian McNally

The Capitals will bring junior prospect Tom Wilson to training camp, the team confirmed on Thursday.

Wilson, 18, was a first-round draft pick last June, No. 16 overall. He plays for the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, where he has 12 goals and 22 assists in 30 games this season. Wilson is known for his physical play at a bruising 6-foot-4, 210 pounds. He has 59 penalty minutes this season and had 141 penalty minutes in just 49 games last year. He was also one of the last players cut from Canada’s entry in the prestigious World Juniors tournament last month. The move was first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

Wilson will play for Plymouth in its game on Friday night against Brampton and then fly to Washington. The Caps expect to open training camp on Sunday. The team will likely be short a player if center Nicklas Backstrom hasn’t recovered from a reported neck injury sustained last month playing for Dynamo Moscow in the KHL. He saw a specialist in Michigan this week and his status remains up in the air.

But it’s unlikely that has much to do with Wilson’s addition – unless the team just needs an extra body. Wilson is a raw winger, not a playmaking center like Backstrom. It is extremely doubtful that he is being given a legitimate chance to crack the final roster. Caps general manager George McPhee said as much earlier in the week. But it will still be interesting to see how he fares in some practices against NHL players. Wilson has the size, at least, to hold his own now against NHL players. The rest of his game remains a work-in-progress.

“There’s no sense bringing in the junior players and that sort of thing because they wouldn’t be able to make our team right now anyway,” McPhee said.

Follow Brian McNally on Twitter at @bmcnally14.

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