Ryan Pilon THW Close-Up
Date of Birth: October 10, 1996
Place of Birth: Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Ht: 6’2” Wt: 212 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2015
Ryan Pilon is an interesting player, and a fascinating contrast to his Brandon Wheat Kings defense partner Ivan Provorov.
Provorov is a Russian, Pilon came from Saskatchewan. Provorov has burst onto the WHL scene as a highly-touted prospect, while Pilon has been in the WHL since he was a very young man, working diligently to improve himself. Provorov is much flashier on the ice, while Pilon is much more of a meat and potatoes, stay-at-home player.
It’s those contrasts that make both players so intriguing, and probably what has helped make them so effective as the top pairing for the Brandon Wheat Kings, the WHL’s best regular season team this past year. Pilon’s a defensive responsible player. He’s very effective at defending the rush, particularly in using his size and deceptive speed to angle players towards the side boards. He’s also a quietly strong offensive presence, with an underrated shot and very effective head-man pass that’s been a useful tool in Brandon’s transition game.
It’s difficult to judge Pilon’s judgment on how (and when) he jumps into the rush or not, because that’s typically been Provorov’s domain and Pilon’s seemingly content to stick to his role in Brandon’s attack. Another potential criticism of Pilon may be regarding his departure from the Lethbridge Hurricanes organization during the 2013-14 season, resulting in his trade to Brandon. However, given the chaos surrounding the Hurricanes during that time – and the other high-profile departures – one could argue that Pilon made the correct decision for his future development.
Ryan Pilon probably won’t go as high as Ivan Provorov in the draft. He’s not quite as proven a dynamic offensive player at the junior level as Provorov, and offense from the back-end tends to get selected earlier than defense. But Ryan Pilon has been a strong defensive player in the Western Hockey League since he was 16, and he’s shown flashes of offensive prowess here and there. He’ll be a strong addition to any team’s group of defensive prospects.
“Pilon…is that safe, reliable, defense first blue liner who has been piling up points on a very good squad early on. He does make a solid pass but is not as offensively gifted as his stats line early in the season would suggest. Pilon does a good job handling some of the bigger WHL forwards with his physical play and strength as well as the smaller, faster attackers with sound positioning and an active stick. At his best when he keeps it simple and just focuses on keeping his zone clean.”
–Dan Stewart, Future Considerations
Pilon has represented Canada twice in big tournaments; winning gold at the Ivan Hlinka tournament and bronze at the U-18 World Championship.
Risk 1/5, Reward 3.5/5
Second pairing shut-down defender with some upside.
- Very effective passer.
- Good vision.
- Strong hockey IQ.
Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:
- Could play a bit meaner, particularly around his own net.
- Pilon probably needs to get involved in the offense more a bit at even-strength. He’s very good on the power-play, but could be more involved at even-strength.
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive 7/10, Defensive 8/10
NHL Player(s) Comparison:
When He’ll Go In June:
Pilon will likely be chosen late in the first round or early in the second round.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.