Ryan Wilson: Avalanche Player Profile


Defenseman Ryan Wilson is a veteran of sorts for the Colorado Avalanche. Wilson has been part of the team since being acquired in a trade with the Calgary Flames in 2009. However, in six seasons, Wilson never played the full season with the Avalanche because of injuries.

Nonetheless, let’s look at this defenseman from Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Ryan Wilson’s Early Years

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Ryan Wilson has usually played a physical defensive game with some scoring upside. He was drafted into the Ontario Hockey League in 2003 by the Totonto St. Michael’s Majors. He stayed with this team for three years, playing 190 games total. In that time, he scored 18 goals and earned 123 points total. In fact, his last two season with the Majors, he led the defensemen in scoring.

Ryan Wilson moved to the Sarnia Sting of the OHL for the 2006-07 season. The following season he developed chemistry with Sarnia forward Steven Stamkos. Stamkos scored a team-high 58 goals that season with Wilson assisting on the lion’s share of those. Wilson earned a team-high 64 assists.

Despite that, the fact that Ryan Wilson scored a total of 24 goals in two seasons with the Sting, and served as captain of the team, he went undrafted. (Stamkos went first overall in the 2008 NHL Draft.) Instead, Wilson signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames. He only ever played on the Flames AHL affiliate Quad City Flames, though.

Ryan Wilson’s Personal Losses

Statistics don’t tell the whole story with Ryan Wilson as related to his hockey career. In fact, at key times in his career he’s suffered significant losses.

When Wilson was 16 years old, he got drafted into the OHL. What would normally have been a thrilling time turned bittersweet when Ryan’s father, Gary, died of a heart attack. Gary Wilson was only 43 — that’s terribly young. He left behind a grief-stricken son.

Ryan Wilson told the Denver Post about how hard the loss was for him:

"“He died when I was looking forward to my first hockey season in the OHL, after being drafted. He worked his whole life for me to play hockey and was so excited. He wanted me to succeed so much. He worked overtime to pay for hockey and do everything he could to make that happen.”"

Nonetheless, the young Ryan Wilson plugged on. However, just five years later, as Ryan was enjoying success on the Sarnia Sting with teammate Steven Stamkos, his stepfather died of cancer at the age of 45.

Ryan Wilson admits that the loss of his father was “the tougher of the two,” of course. However, his stepfather, Barry Hall, had also been a “big influence” in Ryan’s life. He was just 21 when the second loss happened. Nonetheless, Wilson is a trooper, and he never set out to cultivate a sympathy-driven career.

Ryan Wilson is unflappable:

Ryan Wilson and the Colorado Avalanche

Sep 25, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher (11) is checked by Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson (44) during the first period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Defenseman Ryan Wilson made a good run with the Colorado Avalanche. He joined the team at the trade deadline in 2009 but started out on Colorado’s then-affiliate AHL Lake Erie Monsters. He got his first crack at the NHL on October 14, 2009. He stayed with the Avalanche and earned his first NHL point on an assist on October 23, 2009.

On November 17, 2009, Wilson scored his first NHL goal against his old team, the Calgary Flames.

Wilson eventually earned a role on the team as a strong defenseman not afraid to hit. In fact, he became known for his bone-crunching open-ice hits. He developed a bomb of a shot, but the hits and his willingness to fight kept him in the lineup.

Unfortunately, injuries started plaguing Ryan from the beginning. He was the victim of a targeted hit during a game against the Edmonton Oilers in 2010. He sustained a concussion. He returned, but a later concussion ended his rookie season.

Ryan Wilson came back strong for the 2010-11 season. He played in 67 games and earned 16 points. He continued his punishing physical style, delivering over six hits per 60 minutes. In those 67 games he delivered 135 total hits.

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The next season he matched his career-high in points with 21 in 59 games. He saw a decent amount of playing time as well. In fact, his play so impressed Colorado Avalanche management that they offered him a three-year contract on June 25, 2012.

Unfortunately, the injury bug really bit Wilson hard. He played in just 12 games during the 2012-13 season. In the Avs New Age with Patrick Roy, Ryan had a hard time finding his place. He started out injured. However, even when he became healthy he couldn’t always make the team and was the usual healthy scratch. He earned just six points in 28 games in the 2013-14 season, though he did earn two assists in four playoff games.

The 2014-15 season was supposed to be Ryan Wilson’s comeback year. Avalanche management charged him with getting healthy and in prime shape during the off-season. He answered the call and came to training camp fit and ready to go. Wilson said of the opportunity:

"“At the end of last year Patrick challenged me to get back healthy, come ready and be hungry for the season. He pretty much said it’s up to me to get my spot back. When someone gives you that opportunity, you have to take it and work as hard as you can and earn it back.”"

Ryan Wilson was doing just that. He was a bright spot during a dismal preseason. He was working his way into the lineup during the regular season and seeing some good ice time. Then in a game against the Florida Panthers, Wilson sustained a shoulder injury. The injury eventually necessitated surgery, which ended his season.

Unfortunately, it looks as if that injury also ended Wilson’s Avalanche career. However, we should focus on how hard this man has worked on his hockey career. While he may not turn up wearing burgundy and blue again, here’s to hoping he continues to persevere and makes a space for himself on another team.

Ryan Wilson’s playing style:

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