Great Expectations

When you’re a college player about to be drafted, the first thought that comes to mind is committing to the college’s “party line.”

“My first commitment is to (school of choice). I have every intention of returning there in the fall with the hopes of winning a national championship.”

It’s rote. It’s what every kid is trained to say.

Well maybe not every kid.

Enter Colin Wilson. Wilson was one of the most talented players to take the ice for Boston University last season. He struggled a bit early in the year, but after leading the World Junior Championship in goals scored (eight), Wilson returned a new man.

Wilson finished the season with 35 points in 37 games, 23 of which came after coming back from the world class tournament.

As much as a return Boston University might be on the radar screen for the sophomore-to-be, he’s also realistic that the NHL may soon be calling.

“We’ve been talking,” said Wilson when asked about any conversations that he’s had with BU head coach Jack Parker. “We know the [NHL] team that selects me is going to have a say in what they want me to do. If they say, go back to college, I’ll go back. If they say they want me to sign, I may tell them I want to go back.

“[Coach Parker] told me the opportunities that I’ll have next year at BU and those [opportunities] will have a toll when I make my decision.”

All that said, a boyhood dream is what could easily influence Wilson’s decision.

“Everybody always talks about their college years and it’s something you don’t want to miss out on, but at the same time, I look at all my buddies from home that are playing in the WHL, and I’m a year ahead of them,” said Wilson. “When I was growing up, my dream was to play in the NHL, so if I get that opportunity I’d rather seize the moment.”

Wilson is thought to easily be a top 10 choice in this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft. Some have placed him as a top four pick, going to St. Louis with the fourth overall selection. If that’s the case, the expectation will be to make an immediate impact, either at the NHL level or, minimally, playing for their farm team in the American Hockey League.

Others say that somewhere in the top 10 is the destination for the talented player that the NHL Central Scouting Service calls a “skilled and power forward.”

Wherever he ends up, Wilson has a solid understanding of that fact that there’s still development remaining.

Despite being called a natural scorer (Wilson instead calls his scoring “gritty” with natural vision similar to Peter Forsberg), scouting reports say that skating is one area where Wilson lacks. According to The Hockey News, one scout said that Wilson’s skating “won’t hold him back but . . . it’s one thing that holds him back from being mentioned with [consensus number one overall] Steven Stamkos.”

To that, Wilson has a response.

“In terms of skating, the only thing that is true about [what is said] is my choppy stride,” said Wilson. “I’m not a pretty skater, but every time I’m the first to [get to] the puck. I talked to scouts at the [NHL] Combine and they told me my skating has improved constantly since my 17-year-old year.

“I feel just as fast as the next guy out there. I feel, though, that if I get [my skating] to an elite level, that’s what’s going to put me up with the other prospects.”

If anything, Wilson may have a leg up on the competition in terms of experience. Besides having played for the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP), Wilson’s father, Carey, was a 10-year NHL veteran. Still, advice isn’t truly what this solid prospect needs at this point in life.

“[My dad] hasn’t told me anything,” said Wilson. “He wasn’t exactly a highly touted prospect.”

But Wilson’s past USNTDP teammates have had a lot of insight.

“I’ve learned it’s a bit of a process,” said Wilson of his relationships with past USNTDP players. “I understand with the draft there’s a lot of talking to teams in getting ready for it. The main thing is not to be nervous. I’m just going to enjoy the experience and it should be a good time.”

It was possibly New Hampshire forward James van Riesmdyk who gave Wilson the best advice.

“He told me the way it’s going to be like when you’re sitting around waiting for your name to be called. He said there’s nothing like it [hearing your name] but he also said the day after the draft, it just sucks: just that you’re going to be going back to being a regular hockey player.”

And who says being a “regular” hockey player is really that bad? Truth be told, playing college hockey will never be the worst feeling in the world. And knowing that at the end of the day you’re one of the most sought after players in the game certainly adds to that excitement.

When this weekend comes to a close that is what Wilson, and many others, hope to realize.