With the 12th pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Columbus Blue Jackets have selected Cole Sillinger from the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League (USHL)
About Cole Sillinger
The son of former NHLer Mike Sillinger, Cole displays impressive intelligence when on the ice. It is impossible to teach an offensive instinct or a shot like his. Due to his hockey IQ, vision, and patience, he can slow the game down and beat opponents with ease. A powerful sniper who has excelled at all levels, he could be one of the top goal producers of his draft class in the future.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“Cole Sillinger leaped onto the 2021 Draft radar last season after a very strong rookie season with the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Medicine Hat Tigers. In 48 games, the son of former NHL player Mike Sillinger had 22 goals and 53 points, and finished fourth on team scoring despite being one of the youngest players on the team. The 2019-20 season was unfortunately cut short, halting the rookie’s hot streak and giving way for the Edmonton Oil Kings’ Dylan Guenther to claim the WHL’s Rookie of the Year, although the Tigers honored their young star by naming him the team’s top rookie for 2019-20.
Related: 2021 NHL Draft Guide
“The shortened season set up Sillinger and Guenther for a heated battle as to who would claim the title of top WHL forward for the upcoming draft, with both having a legitimate shot at being a top-10 NHL pick. But with no sign as to when the league would resume, Guenther decided to play in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, while Sillinger opted to go down to the United States Hockey League (USHL) since he had dual citizenship.
“However, that’s where things got complicated. Junior players regularly play for a Junior-A league before joining the WHL, but no such transfer agreement exists, and Sillinger’s request to Hockey Canada to join the Sioux Falls Stampede, who owned his USHL rights, was denied. So, with no start date in sight, the Tigers decided to loan their star player for the entire season, as they believed “…it was felt that this option would give him the best ability to showcase his talent for upcoming NHL Draft,” said general manager Willie Desjardins. (from ‘Tigers release Sillinger to play for USHL team this season’, CHAT News Today – 1/13/21)
“So far, the results have been promising for the young star. In his first 23 games, Sillinger had 19 goals and 37 points, which lead his team and, at 1.61 points per game, is the fourth-highest rate in the USHL, and he shows no sign of slowing down. Only Sasha Pastujov and Matthew Coronato have out-performed him among draft-eligible prospects. He’s demonstrated one of the best shots of the 2021 class, and his 0.82 goals-per-game rate is second in the USHL, just behind Coronato’s 0.95. He also is an effective playmaker thanks to his great vision and intelligence on the ice.
“However, his game is not without flaws, and scouts have been concerned about his skating since last season, especially regarding his acceleration and stride. He has made improvements while with the Stampede, which is promising, but it still is not at the same level as many of his peers. However, Sillinger’s biggest weakness has allowed him to showcase his deception, which is arguably his greatest weapon. His patience and vision allow him to create space without the need to blow by his opponent, and his high hockey IQ helps him think several steps ahead to make sure he can create the best scoring opportunity for his team. That’s a skill that’s difficult to teach and will make him a highly valued target come draft day.”
How This Affects the Blue Jackets’ Plans
As the Blue Jackets have had a busy day thus far, they added yet another talented center to their depth chart with the addition of Sillinger. His hockey IQ is exceptionally high, and he possesses many other skills that make him a special player. He has proven his ability to score consistently at every level, and he will be an excellent addition to the line-up.
Sillinger will join a team full of talented young prospects with the likes of Kent Johnson and Yegor Chinakhov to name a couple. The Blue Jackets will look to add to their pipeline further as we progress throughout the draft.
Born and raised in Kamloops B.C. and a die-hard fan of the Kamloops Blazers, hockey has always been a part of his life. Now, Colton is exploring the sports media world and looking to make it a career. He currently covers the Winnipeg Jets, as well as contributes to World Juniors, and draft-related content. He is co-host of the WesternCentric Podcast, which revolves around the WHL.