Continuing on with the theme of players who had to switch leagues due to COVID cancellations, we have Cole Sillinger. Unfortunately, similarly to the OHL, the WHL also had its season suspended, and as a result, Sillinger opted to play in the USHL this season instead of with the Medicine Hat Tigers (amazing team name).
Sillinger is a very interesting player for a couple of reasons. First, he is the son of former NHLer and first round pick Mike Sillinger, who played primarily with the Red Wings and Islanders, though he did have a stint as a Flyer from 1997 to 1999! Second, and more importantly, he is a consistent scorer from his center position, and can also play on the left wing. He managed 20+ goals in the WHL in 2019-20, as well as in the USHL this past season. He’s your prototypical “sniper” center.
BSH 2021 Community Draft Board, No. 12: Cole Sillinger
Team: Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
Statistics: 24 G, 22 A in 31 GP
No. 10 (NA skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 13 by FC Hockey
No. 14 by Dobber Prospects
No. 13 by TSN
What’s there to like?
Sillinger’s best attribute is his shot, and many have claimed he is the best shooter available in the draft. Just look at this highlight from his rookie WHL season in 2019-20:
Sillinger unleashes shots that speed off his blade like a bullet. Especially when he’s coming off the wing (especially his on-wing), he can be incredibly deceptive since he always leaves his hips open to sell the pass. Then, when he shoots its too late for the goaltender to react. As he gets stronger, his shot strength will only improve, which will help him beat goaltenders at higher levels. It also doesn’t hurt that he is quite accurate.
Alternatively, he can also take the puck on his own, beat the entire opposing team, and score:
En écrivant sur Cole Sillinger, je suis tombé sur cette séquence qui démontre ce qu'on doit savoir sur ce jeune.— Mathieu Paradis (@mat_paradis) June 18, 2021
- Crée son espace
- Protection de rondelle
- Se faufile tel un chat malgré sa shape de lion
- Tir puissant même en déséquilibre#NHLDraft @Toutsurlehockey pic.twitter.com/jEX0x8yqiY
Now, I doubt he’ll be doing this in the NHL, as his puck skills aren’t quite at that next level we see from some prospects (such as William Eklund in this year’s draft class). However, his hands are still really good, and while he may not be weaving in and out of defenders like Connor McDavid at the NHL level, very few players can regardless.
Sillinger is also effective on the forecheck and boards. He’s deceptively willing to play along the boards and he can really help control the cycle when its established.
Sillinger, when he’s playing center, can also be quite a skilled playmaker, as his dangerous shot will always leave the opposition wary of him. They have to respect the shot, which can lead to his teammates finding space. A good comparison to make is that he plays similarly to Cole Caufield if the Canadiens’ winger was a center, and both taller and stronger. However, having said this, Sillinger could likely project to the NHL as a winger, given his weaknesses.
What’s not to like?
Sillinger is a decent skater, but his stride and speed are not the best, stop if you’ve heard that one before. In fairness, however, he did improve upon his skating this past season, and his explosiveness already looks miles better than what it was. Sillinger also has decent edge-work and is very shifty. However, his skating is simply “okay” rather than “great”.
Sillinger is also not the best defensive forward. He won’t be in the running for the Selke Trophy any time soon. He is prone to taking lots of risks (which can be a good thing if you put him at wing), and often loses sight of his man when he becomes too focused on the puck. At center, that can be detrimental. Therefore, this is why he likely projects to wing in the NHL if he can’t improve himself defensively. He uses his size effectively along the boards in the offensive zone, but this doesn’t translate to the defensive zone.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
The Flyers could always use a sniper, so Sillinger would fit in well in the future when paired with more defensively responsible forwards such as Joel Farabee. Similarly to when we wanted the Flyers to take Cole Caufield (and to be fair the Flyers did take a sniper in Tyson Foerster), they don’t have many players that outright shoot in high volumes.
Therefore, a player like Sillinger would always be a fit in the Flyers’ system given the abundance of two-way players and playmakers at the NHL level.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
It is entirely possible Sillinger is still on the board when the Flyers pick. He is mocked around the early to mid teens by most outlets, which is just right when the Flyers pick funny enough!
The Foerster pick has me more convinced the Flyers may actually take Sillinger if he is available, though his defensive woes could leave the Flyers opting to skip out on Sillinger. Let’s hope they don’t, since he is one of the most talented forwards offensively in the draft.
We’ll also make one addition to the poll:
Sasha Pastujov — LW, USNTDP/Notre Dame (NCAA)
Pastujov is an elite-level dual threat left-winger who can stickhandle in a phone booth and search out teammates with poise. In my opinion, he’s on the shortlist for Best Passers in the 2021 Draft Class, and can handle the puck at an elite level. Pastjuov has an incredible sense of awareness to put himself in opportune positions to either score or set up a teammate with a tap-in scoring chance. Sasha is the most offensively-gifted out of his two brothers, and can score from all regions in the offensive zone. - Paul Zuk, Smaht Scouting
Who should be 13th on the draft board?
This poll is closed
2021 BSH Community Draft Board
- Owen Power — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Matthew Beniers — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Brandt Clarke — D, Nove Zamky (Slovakia)
- Dylan Guenther — LW/RW, Edmonton (WHL)
- William Eklund — C/LW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
- Luke Hughes — D, US NTDP (USHL) and US National U18 (USDP)
- Simon Edvinsson — D, Frölunda HC J20 / J20 Nationell - 21/22
- Kent Johnson — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Aatu Räty — C, Kärpät U20 and Kärpät (Liiga)
- Jesper Wallstedt — G, Luleå (SHL)
- Mason McTavish — C, EHC Olten (SL)
- Cole Sillinger — C/LW, Sioux (USHL)