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 2021 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 Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Cole Sillinger Scouting Report.
With the WHL season continuously delayed due to COVID-19, top NHL Draft prospect Cole Sillinger opted to play in the USHL for the Sioux Falls Stampede this year. In 31 games, Sillinger proved to be one of the most dynamic players in the league, scoring 24 goals and 22 assists for 46 points. The choice meant that he needed to spend the entire season in the USHL. He could not rejoin Medicine Hat when the WHL season finally started.
Sillinger was the 11th overall pick of the Medicine Hat Tigers in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft. He enjoyed a strong rookie season with the Tigers putting up 22 goals and 31 assists for 53 points in 48 WHL games in 2019-20. While he didn’t win league-wide honours, he was named Medicine Hat’s Rookie of the Year. Sillinger also played for Team Canada White at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He scored five goals in six tournament games. Sillinger is the son of Mike Sillinger, who played over 1000 games in the NHL over 18 seasons with 12 different NHL teams. His brothers, Luke and Owen are playing NCAA Hockey for Bemidji State.
Cole Sillinger Scouting Report
Left Wing/Center — shoots Left
Born May 16th, 2003 — Regina, Saskatchewan
Height 6’0″ — Weight 187 lbs [183 cm / 85 kg]
Sillinger’s skating has improved this season but is still a bit of a work in progress. His first few steps are decent but his overall acceleration is just average. He will need to keep working on lengthening his stride to improve his top-end speed as well. These are adjustments that have already started and with a good skating coach is something he may be able to become above average in these areas. Sillinger has good agility and edgework. He can make quick changes in direction and get away from defenders both with and without the puck. He is also strong on the puck, with good lower body strength and balance. This helps him to protect the puck down low as well as to win battles on the boards and in front of the net. He should only get better as he gets stronger.
Sillinger is a pure sniper. He might be the best shooter in this draft class. His wrist shot is powerful and accurate. He has quick hands and is able to get the shot off quickly. Sillinger also does a good job of changing the angle on his shot, fooling goaltenders. His snapshot is also very good and features a similar quick release. Sillinger also has a knack for getting open for a one-timer, especially on the power play. His slap shot is also very good. He can even score with a good backhand. Sillinger has the hands to get deflections and pounce on rebounds in front of the net. His lateral agility and hands allow him to move laterally to open up shooting lanes.
Sillinger is a smart player who can also take on the role of playmaker. His agility and hands also help him to open passing lanes. He has the vision to find the open teammate and get them the puck. Sillinger is also strong on the boards and controls the puck in the cycle game. This gives his teammates the opportunity to get open and he can find them with the pass when they do. He loves to work the give and go, moving the puck quickly and getting open for the return pass. Sillinger is good on the forecheck, forcing defenders to move the puck quickly and sometimes creating turnovers in the offensive zone.
Sillinger also needs work in his own end of the ice. He can become too focused on the puck away from the play, losing his man and getting out of position. He also seems to take risks at times, leaving the zone early and trying to create offence. Sillinger could improve by using his size and strength to help contain in the cycle game but is not always committed to working down low in the defensive zone. These are areas where he will need some strong coaching in helping out his defence.
Projection and Comparison
Sillinger has a ton of offensive talent, however deficiencies in his skating and defensive game will need to be addressed before he is ready for the next level. He is likely to head back to the WHL next season, and working on those aspects of his game for a couple of years in the league would really help him. He may end up a winger instead of a centre at the next level as this could reduce the impact of his skating and defensive play. Sillinger is a real boom or bust prospect. The good news is that he has the offensive instincts and great shot that cannot be taught, while his deficiencies are things that can be improved. Sillinger’s game is reminiscent of Mark Schiefele, however, this is a style comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Cole Sillinger that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for our next NHL Draft Article.
Cole Sillinger Scouting Report Main Photo:
Top NHL prospect Cole Sillinger is staying with the @sfstampede and not returning to the WHL until the completion of the USHL season. A big factor is his US citizenship and the fact USHL is already playing. He is @tigershockey property. (📷: @sfstampede) pic.twitter.com/zyxqNvVOE3
— Rod Pedersen (@rodpedersen) February 20, 2021