Last season, a group of Pittsburgh Penguins rookies, known affectionately as the Baby Pens, made names for themselves in the final regular-season push for the playoffs and cemented their place in history by hoisting the Stanley Cup. One of those skaters might have gotten lost in the mix after an injury ended his season early. But the fact is, Scott Wilson could be the biggest scoring threat of the group. Wilson adds scoring depth to an already loaded offense. With five goals in his last 12 games with the Penguins, and the longest goal-scoring streak by a rookie since Jordan Staal in 2007, Wilson has provided a glimpse of the play he’s capable of.
The Penguins drafted Wilson in the seventh round of the 2011 draft. He went on to play at the collegiate level for the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, where he earned recognition and several awards. Named the 2012 Hockey East Rookie of the Year after averaging 1.5 points per game as a freshman, Wilson, as a sophomore, was instrumental in getting his team to the Frozen Four — the first appearance ever of U-Mass Lowell in college hockey’s national title tournament. That tournament, coincidentally, was played here in Pittsburgh.
Now Wilson has his sights set on playing NHL playoff hockey on that same ice. We caught up with the 24-year-old left winger before the Pens’ final preseason game.
How is the ankle?
It feels good. I think I used the extra time to my advantage this summer. It’s 100 percent healthy now.
Besides rehabbing, what did you do with your time away from the ice?
I like to go up north to cottage country — it’s pretty relaxing up there. You try and get away from the game a little bit.
What was it like watching your AHL teammates play in the Stanley Cup playoffs?
It’s pretty cool. We’re pretty close, us five guys. Anytime you see guys have success that you played with and you’re right there, it’s pretty special.
Did that light a fire under you?
I think a little bit. It obviously sucks watching. If somebody said it didn’t bother them, they’d be lying to you. So I think I used that extra time to my advantage just to be ready for this year.
What is your relationship like with Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary and Tom Kuhnhackl?
Really good. We just had dinner together last night. We normally swap dinner spots at our different houses, so we’re pretty close.
What do you bring to the ice and where do you think you fit on the team?
Speed, shoot the puck and be physical. I’m playing with G [Geno] right now; nice to play with a guy like that, that’s so good. Just need to prove myself there.
What do you think you need to work on the most?
This summer I did a good job of getting faster. I think you can always get faster and that really helps anybody’s game. So I think anytime you can add a little bit more speed, it will help out.
What are you looking forward to this season?
Just being around the guys for the whole experience of being in the NHL. I think it’s pretty special. You dream about doing this stuff when you’re a kid, so just being around the guys all the time and hopefully having another good year.