It has not been just organizational depth that has helped the Nashville Predators overcome a recent rash of injuries at center. Width has been a factor as well.
Colin Wilson was brought in from the wing beginning with the Oct. 19 against Calgary, which means he now has spent as much time (four games each) at center as he has on the wing this season.
The change in position has had little effect on his performance. The second-year pro is tied for third on the team with five points (two goals, three assists). He has scored one goal in each spot with two assists from the wing and one at center.
It also helped the Predators maintain their standing as the NHL’s hottest team at the start of this season. Following a pair of weekend road victories they were the only team without a regulation loss (5-0-3) and their 13 points were the most in the league.
“It’s not like I was being put on defense out there,” Wilson said. “I knew what I was doing.”
When Matthew Lombardi (concussion) and Marcel Goc (shoulder) went on injured reserve, Nick Spaling was recalled from Milwaukee but the Predators still were one short in the middle.
So they moved Wilson, a center throughout his days in youth hockey and at Boston University. It was his play at that position that prompted Nashville to draft him in the first round (seventh overall) in 2008.
He also played there for much of the 40 games he spent at Milwaukee in 2009-10, his first professional season. It was only in his 35 NHL appearances last season that he primarily was on the wing.
“The biggest difference is that you have a lot more responsibility,” Wilson said. “In the (defensive) zone, you’re playing down low and if you’re guy beats you there you’re done – there’s going to be a scoring chance or there’s going to be a goal. When you’re on the wing, you just have to worry about your defenseman keeping him in a certain area.
“It’s actually great offensively. You can support the puck. You have to keep your feet moving and generate some speed.”
He had 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) for the Admirals but just 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) for the Predators.
The one area in which has struggled is the faceoff circle. His success rate (44.2 percent) is better than only David Legwand (37.9) among regulars in that role.
Before they were hurt, Goc and Lombardi each won better than 53 percent of their attempts. Spaling has done the same in his four appearances.
“It’s a different position, but I’m used to it,” he said. “… I’ve played there my whole life. So it’s good.
“… With a couple guys out, guys have to start filling roles. I’m sure I’ll be there until Goc or Lombardi come back.”
• In what the organization trumpeted as an effort to support the growth of hockey at the grassroots level the Predators made a $150,000 donation to A-Game Sportsplex in Franklin on Tuesday.
The Predators also conducted their daily workout at the facility and players spent time throughout the day with workouts of teams based there.
• Defenseman Teemu Laakso was reassigned to Milwaukee on Monday.
Recalled on Saturday, he played only briefly (2:43 of ice time) in one of the two games during which he was on the roster.