By Jason Karnosky
Kyle Wilson knows what it is like to be underestimated.
Originally selected in the ninth-round of the 2004 National Hockey League entry draft by Minnesota, the Milwaukee Admirals’ forward has made himself into a indispensible and adaptable commodity at every step along the way of his a six-year professional playing career.
“I am not a player that is going to go out and score 50 goals in the NHL, but every team needs guys that are going to play hard and fill different roles,” said Wilson, whose resume of dressing in 39 NHL games ranks higher than all but two players (Clayton Stoner and Ryan Jones) from the Wild’s 2004 draft class. “I’ve found that being more versatile gives you more opportunities and more ice time, so I’ve tried to develop myself into that type of player.”
Prior to turning professional, Wilson matured as a player and person in his four colligate years at Colgate from 2002-2006. The Oakville, Ontario native contributed just six points during in his freshman season, but evolved into one of college hockey’s elite players by his season year, piling up 23 goals and 41 points in 39 games. During his time with the Raiders, Wilson helped the school earn its only berth in the NCAA tournament during the decade (in 2005).
After turning professional, Wilson’s playing stock rose substantially during his first full season in the American Hockey League with the Hershey Bears. Wilson scored a career high 30 goals and 61 points over the course of the 80-game 2007-2008 campaign, helping the defending Eastern Conference champions return to the playoffs.
Though the Bears got knocked off by eventual Calder Cup finalist Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the first round of the 2008 playoffs, Wilson was a part of championship winning squads during the next two seasons.
“It’s nice for (us) to come to a franchise with a history of winning and it’s always good to be a part of that,” said Admirals defenseman Tyler Sloan, who was Wilson’s teammate with the Bears. “(With Hershey) we played a lot of lengthy seasons and had some short summers, and it’s the same way it is here in Milwaukee.”
In his final year with the Washington Capitals organization, Wilson fulfilled a lifelong goal of playing in the National Hockey League. The then rookie center made his first NHL game with the Caps a memorable one by picking up a pair of assists as Washington smoked Colorado 6-1 on December 15.