Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2015 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2015 Draft Articles Click here.
A late 1996 birthdate, Ryan Pilon just finished his third year in the WHL. Pilon comes from good bloodlines as he is the nephew of former NHLer Rich Pilon. Picked 3rd overall in the WHL Bantam Draft by the Lethbridge Hurricanes he was traded to Brandon during the 2013-14 season. Along with Eric Roy, and Ivan Provorov, he was part of a big three on the Brandon Wheat Kings blueline, and helped lead the team to a first place finish and a trip to the WHL Final, where they ultimately fell to the Kelowna Rockets. Pilon put up 11 goals and 52 points in 68 games for the Wheat Kings during the regular season and added a goal and 12 points in 19 playoff games this year. He has also been a regular in international tournaments as Pilon was a part of Team Canada at the 2014 Under 18s and won a Bronze medal. He was also a gold medalist at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka tournament, and a member of Team West at the 2013 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge.
Defense — shoots Left Born Oct 10 1996 — Duck Lake, SASK Height 6.02 — Weight 206 [188 cm/93 kg] Ryan Pilon is strong two-way defender with good size at 6’2″. Playing on a pairing with Ivan Provorov, he has been the more stay at home defender of the two 2015 draft eligible players. Pilon can play a robust physical game, doling out big hits and battling in corners and in front of the net. He maintains good gap control and funnels defenders to the outside, where he uses his size and strength to take them out of the play. Pilon shows very good positioning and hockey sense. He uses his body and a good active stick to cut down on passing and shooting lanes. He battles hard in the corners, and uses his strength and leverage to clear the front of the net. Pilon will drop the gloves, and hasn’t been afraid to come to the defense of a teammate over his WHL career.
Ryan Pilon also has good vision and passing skills. He makes a strong first pass and can start the Brandon transition game from his own end. He has the stickhandling ability to skate the puck out of danger in his own end and make that strong first pass, but he isn’t one to go coast to coast and lead the rush. Pilon has also done a very good job of making plays from the point on the powerplay. He has a decent but not overpowering shot and one-timer, with his ability to get it on net being his biggest asset here. He also utilizes a good wrist shot when he doesn’t have time to get off the slapshot. Pilon is not the dynamic offensive defenseman that his partner Provorov is, but he does have some skills and the ability to generate some offense.
Ryan Pilon is a decent skater, with above average mobility on the back end. While he’s not going to be confused for a speedster, he does have some decent top end speed in both directions, and a good stride that gives him above average acceleration. He has good pivots and edgework, which allows Pilon to cover a lot of ice, and makes him difficult to beat off the rush. A strong lower-body, and good balance give Pilon the ability to clear the front of the net, and do well in battling for loose pucks. He’s hard to knock off the puck as well.
Ryan Pilon has the potential to be a solid second pairing defender in the NHL if he can reach his ceiling. The biggest upside here is his defensive game, but there is enough offense to potentially develop into a second unit powerplay player. In terms of style of game, he can be compared to a Marc Staal type, but this is a style comparison and not one based on his talent level.
Below are some videos of Pilon in action.
Be sure to book mark the site, and check back often for our next NHL draft profile.