When Colgate turned its seventh- place finish in 2002-03 into this year’s ECAC regular- season championship, league observers had to give the Raiders their due. And professional scouts couldn’t help but take notice of Kyle Wilson.
The 6-foot, 200-pound forward from London, Ontario, improved his all-around play markedly between his freshman and sophomore seasons. At No. 78 in the NHL Central Scouting Service’s North American rankings, he is one of the ECAC’s names to watch at this month’s NHL Entry Draft in Raleigh, N.C.
A large part of the attention Wilson attracted was due to his offensive numbers, which jumped from six points as a freshman to 31 this season, earning him USCHO.com’s Most Improved Player Award. But Colgate assistant coach Stan Moore feels Wilson has become more valuable because of his newfound defensive emphasis.
“Kyle has great offensive ability. He was already quite gifted on the offensive side when he came to Colgate,” said Moore, who served as interim head coach this past season. “Now he’s able to take his game and turn it 180 degrees and help tremendously on the defensive end.”
Wilson, who was only 17 when he played his first collegiate game in October 2002, admits he never really focused on defense before he came to Colgate.
“All through junior hockey, I focused more on the offensive aspect of the game,” he said. “But coming into college, I was amazed at how important the defensive emphasis was in the ECAC.
“I’ve forced my play into a more rounded, more complete game. This year, I was able to help the team both offensively and defensively.”
That two-way ability leaves Moore convinced Wilson has the potential to skate in the NHL.
“For anyone with aspirations beyond Division I hockey, you need to love the process of improving,” Moore said. “[Kyle does, so] I think the sky’s the limit for his improvement.”
(This article originally appeared in this month’s edition of USCHO Magazine.)