DETROIT – When Scott Wilson played in the minor leagues, he was a scoring machine. That’s not an exaggeration. He poured in 22 goals and 36 points in only 34 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton two years ago.
Wilson took a look back at that run during the Buffalo Sabres' bye week. His old team sent him video clips, and the left winger liked what he saw.
"That's definitely helped me a lot getting back to how I was there," Wilson said Thursday. "It's just doing the little things, shooting the puck a lot more. I got away from that for a while. That's something I did, and I'm just trying to build on that."
Wilson entered Thursday's game against Detroit as a regular on the score sheet. He had three goals and five points in the previous six games, solid numbers for a team in dire need of solid performers.
"Scott Wilson has done a terrific job since he's been part of our team, not only the way he handles himself and the way he approaches the game, but the way he plays it," coach Phil Housley said in Little Caesars Arena. "He does the right things. He finishes checks. He's tough to play against, and he's a really good addition to our team."
He's the type of addition who could stick around. Acquired from the Red Wings in December for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, Wilson is showing he can handle scoring- and checking-line roles. The 25-year-old will be a restricted free agent this summer with a qualifying offer due of $726,000.
It's easy to envision him becoming a complementary piece of the rebuild. He envisions it, too.
"Absolutely," said Wilson, who spent parts of four seasons in the Penguins' organization after being drafted by a front office that included Jason Botterill. "Being in Pitt, you kind of see what it takes. With Bottsy being there and everything, you obviously know what needs to be done.
"Being part of the rebuild is exciting being a little bit of a younger guy."
It's exciting just to a find a home. It has been a whirlwind year for Wilson, who finally feels settled with Buffalo. After three games without a point in Pittsburgh, the Penguins traded him to the Red Wings. He failed to produce a point in 17 games before getting dealt to the Sabres.
"Hockey's a business, and at the end of the day sometimes it doesn't go your way," he said.
After arriving in Buffalo, Wilson had just one goal and one assist in 14 games. He was scratched in five others.
In the past 13 games, he has four goals and eight points.
"I've been feeling pretty good as of late, kind of finding myself a little bit," Wilson said. "Anytime you start to get some bounces, it feels good. You get a little confidence of hanging onto the puck for an extra second to make a play instead of just getting rid of it.
"It's been a long year for me, but I think I'm kind of finally settling in."
The Rick Jeanneret talking bobblehead disappeared in a hurry. It left a lasting charitable impression.
The Sabres made 1,900 collectibles of their Hall of Fame announcer, and they sold out in a day and a half. The sales raised $74,000 that will be split in half and donated to the Kevin Guest House and the Sabres' foundation.
“The response from the community took me completely by surprise,” Jeanneret said. “I was flattered to see how many people wanted this bobblehead and stepped up to help support our community, proving once again that Buffalo has the best fans in the league."
The Sabres will present a check for $37,000 to representatives from Kevin Guest House on Sunday when the Boston Bruins visit KeyBank Center. Kevin Guest House provides a comfortable and supportive home away from home for patients and families traveling to Buffalo for medical care.
“We would like to thank the fans and John W. Danforth for making this possible,” Rich Jureller, president of the Sabres' foundation, said in reference to the bobblehead's sponsor. “With all the support, we are going to be able to use these funds to continue to make a difference in the Buffalo community and help a great organization in Kevin Guest House.”
The Sabres and Red Wings both have American-born coaches. Like everyone involved with USA Hockey, they were ecstatic about the U.S. women beating Canada for Olympic gold, 3-2 in a shootout.
Not that Housley or the Red Wings' Jeff Blashill saw the game, which ended in the wee hours of Thursday morning.
"Anytime we can beat Canada it's a great thing," said Blashill.
Both coaches praised U.S. women's coach and former Sabres goaltender Robb Stauber.
"He's really found a nice niche there and really helped that program," said Housley, who relished the first gold for the women since 1998. "It's been a long time and been overdue for the women's team to win the gold medal."