• Alex Taxman

Prospect Report: Cole Sillinger

Updated: Nov 6

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Being the son of longtime NHL journeyman Mike Sillinger, Cole’s got high level hockey in his blood, and so far it looks like he’s got a lot more skill than his father. The 6 foot, 187 pound Regina native took the WHL by storm in the 2019-2020 season as a rookie, piling up 22 goals and 53 points in 48 games. Just glancing back through his eliteprospects page, it’s obvious that Cole’s always been the driving force of his team’s offense, and his rookie campaign with Medicine Hat was no different. The Tigers were a team with multiple older offensive threats, but Sillinger still took on tons of offensive responsibility, becoming a huge part of why the Tigers finished the season in 2nd place. Cole had a CORSI rating above 10 in over half of the games he played, sometimes creeping up towards the 20 mark. There’s multiple tools that Sillinger possesses to be able to produce at a rate like this, and I’m going to break them down one by one.


Skating


Sillinger’s skating is perfectly fine. He’s got average speed, and I don’t think that will ever change, but he’s exceptionally strong on his edges and is able to maintain a low center of gravity at all times. This helps him fight off bigger defenders, and protect the puck in all situations. In addition, he can be pretty elusive when he needs to be. Watch here how he uses his feet to deceive the defenseman into thinking he’s going to shoot, then quickly goes heel to heel and dishes the puck backdoor:


Shooting


It’s a little early, but I’ve got Sillinger pegged as one of the top shooters in the 2021 crop, with hands down the best wrist shot release. Sillinger’s release is unbelievably quick and snappy, and he has pinpoint accuracy from nearly anywhere in the zone. He doesn’t need tons of space to get it off either, and as a result, he’s got a wicked snap shot. Just watch how unstoppable it is:

As long as the puck is somewhat within Sillinger’s radius, he’s going to get a dangerous shot off. Now back to his wrister, this is just unfair:

His one timer is pretty sick too:

Of course, for someone with his shooting ability, he’s great on his off side too:

As you’d expect, his shot volume reflects his shooting talents, as he puts just under 4 pucks on net per game.


Puck Skills / Vision


Sillinger is another prospect who I’m combining the puck skills and vision categories for, because there’s simply too much overlap between them. His hands are quick, fluid, and decisive, and he’s nearly mastered one of the lesser used elements of the game; the slap pass. Because he’s such a massive goal scoring threat, Sillinger has already begun to compensate for teams putting heavy coverage on him. He sets up as if he’s going to take a one timer, then fires a perfect pass directly to his target:

It’s cool that Cole’s got that neat little trick, but there’s much, much more to unpack with his playmaking game. First off, for a “sniper”, he might be the best passer I’ve ever seen. He’s able to hit tiny seams and make long bullet passes with such consistency, it’s remarkable. Just watch how easy he makes it look:

In this next clip, Sillinger only needs a split second view of his target before letting the pass go:

Watch here how he corrals the bad pass, and instantly flings a perfect one through a “covered” lane:

Here’s one of those minuscule seams that he can hit effortlessly:

And he’s got a heck of a saucer pass too:

His passing percentage hovered at or around 80 for the entire season, making him one of the top passers in this draft. In addition to being an undercover playmaking wizard, Sillinger’s got one heck of a toe drag. When he pairs it with his wrist shot release, it’s disgusting:


Defensive Play


Because of his lack of speed, Sillinger isn’t someone who has been depended on to kill penalties, or take on a defensive role. Despite this, he’s always an engaged forechecker and will sometimes create things like this:

He processes the game so quickly, and once he’s taken the puck away, it’s on its way to his teammates stick. That kind of innate vision on the forecheck is more of an offensive trait than a defensive one, but his willingness to engage in these situations is a positive sign.

Physical Play


Sillinger isn’t a very physical player at all. He’s able to throw the occasional reverse hit here and there, and he finishes his checks, but that’s about it. He’s obviously a strong kid, and uses that strength to protect the puck, not impose himself upon his opponents.


Conclusion


Sillinger’s draft appeal is pretty similar to another Cole’s, in Cole Perfetti. Sillinger’s a better shooter, Perfetti’s a better playmaker, but both lack great speed, size, and provide immense value in other departments to make up for it. Plus, both have the potential to be PPG type forwards in the NHL, whether at center or on the wing. Sillinger is a player who I’m intrigued to see this season, as it’s been a while since he’s laced up the skates for a serious game. He’s got the potential to rise even further into my top 10 this season.


Thanks for reading!