2021 NHL Draft Profile: Cole Sillinger

The 2021 NHL Draft is an important one for the Chicago Blackhawks. As they rebuild/retool and look to get back into the playoffs, the hope is the Hawks don’t draft as high as their pick this year; the Hawks own the 11th overall selection in this year’s draft.

As we consider who the Hawks might pick, we’ve been breaking down some names that could be on Chicago’s list. Thus far we have discussed forwards Matthew Coronado, Chaz Lucius, Mason McTavish, Aatu Raty and Brennan Othmann.

Next on our list is Cole Sillinger.

Cole Sillinger
6-0 / 197
Sioux Falls (USHL)

Ranked #13 by TSN/McKenzie
Ranked #10 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #14 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #13 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #16 by NEUTRAL ZONE
Ranked #15 by SPORTSNET’S
Ranked #15 by SMAHT SCOUTING

From Corey Pronman (The Athletic)

#18 overall prospect
Skating: Below-average
Puck Skills: Average
Hockey Sense: Average
Compete: Above-average
Shot: Above-average

“Sillinger went to the USHL with the WHL’s delayed start where he was one of the league’s best forwards. Sillinger is a smart player, who can make seam passes consistently and make creative plays due to his great hands and offensive IQ. He can play on the perimeter due to his vision and a great one-timer/wrist shot combo, which he gets off with velocity and accuracy. He can also play inside. He wins battles, gets to the net, is reliable defensively and doesn’t shy from playing physically. His skating is an area of concern, with a heavy stride. He likely won’t be able to drive entries at the top level. In a sentence, Sillinger projects as a top-six NHL forward, whether at center or the wing, who will bring scoring and physicality elements to a lineup.”

From Chris Peters’ Hockey Sense

#16 overall prospect
“One of the draft’s better creators, Sillinger was the USHL rookie of the year after joining the league late and scoring a whole bunch. He had 24 goals in 31 games for Sioux Falls and was supposed to join Canada for the U18s, but returned a positive test before he could join the team. It was a huge disappointment after how good he was in the USHL this year. He did more than enough to prove his footing among the elite players in this draft. Sillinger has one of the best releases in this draft, quick, accurate and deceptive. He can score from distance, but has good hands in tight as well. I think he may be the best in-stride shooter in this draft. Defensively, he’s not going to blow anyone away, nor will his skating. The hands and his ability to create space, however, is unique compared to a lot of his peers. In this particular draft class, his hand skills are a big separator for me. Sillinger will be headed back to Medicine Hat next season after choosing to come south of the border amid the WHL’s delayed season.”

From LastWordonHockey.com

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.

Offensive Game
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.

Defensive Game
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.

12 thoughts on “2021 NHL Draft Profile: Cole Sillinger

  • July 1, 2021 at 7:26 am

    With the Keith news emerging you might just want to draft another defenseman. But than again who needs to play defense here??

  • July 1, 2021 at 7:27 am

    Interesting reading on scouting reports- Tab I’d like your take on the observations of many of these scouts who find MANY prospects have “below average” skating abilities?? Doesn’t that seem to be a key “high” consideration?

  • July 1, 2021 at 7:59 am

    Well, Seabrook gone and now maybe Keith ! With all the fast water bugs in the league they need to shore up the D and also get a real goaltender ! Sillinger has genes and is a western Canadian ! His Dad had 500 pts, in a thousand games and the son is a good 200 lbs ! However all these kids need a few years of experience in The A , POPS 4

  • July 1, 2021 at 9:04 am

    The theme emerging in these draft profiles is “below average” skating. If the theme continues the 2021 1st round could end up defined as below average. I doubt the NHL gets slower in the future so with speed being such an important element of the game, it will be equally important moving forward, if not more so.

  • July 1, 2021 at 9:20 am

    re: Hammer Time – check the Blackhawks’ org depth and rumors. They’re big game hunting for blue line help right now (Seth Jones or Dougie Hamilton) and they have about 50 defensemen already here. IMO even if they move Keith they’re OK on the blue line. If they want to compete they need higher end skill up front. And there are forwards available in this draft class that could help that. At 11 you go for an impact forward even if Keith is gone.

  • July 1, 2021 at 2:06 pm

    Tab while I agree with your comment regarding the organization depth of the defense and the need for higher end skill up front, I have no confidence in the guy running the show here. He needs to go. As far as Keith leaving??? If he wants to play near his family then that is what he needs to do, its a darn shame because of what he’s done for the team and he’s still a productive player even with the heavy mileage on him. Its a shame reading some of the comments here regarding him at times because yes he’s slipping but he still deserves the respect of a Hall of Fame Defenseman.

  • July 1, 2021 at 7:56 pm

    Sillinger seems like a definite possibility for the Hawks if Edvinsson McTavish and Johnson are all gone by 11

  • July 1, 2021 at 7:58 pm

    Although I’d probably side with taking Coronato over Sillinger but would be fine with either if none of other 3 are available

  • July 2, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    Hamilton sucks on D- will be Seabrook 2.0 /speed wise in less than 3 years

    Excellent shot- and On PP

    Strong NO to Hamilton

  • July 2, 2021 at 6:08 pm

    McTavish,Johnson, would be ideal but Sillinger would be solid also. This team needs larger talented forwards who can play both ends of the ice. By the looks of most of these scouting reports,the Hawks could use a top notch in house power skating coach also. I am at a loss on how potential NHL players do not fine tune their skating before any potential prospect analysis or draft.

  • July 3, 2021 at 12:54 am

    From what I know, the Hawks Love Chaz Lucius.

  • July 3, 2021 at 8:44 pm

    Craig so your saying Coronato isn’t their biggest interest anymore.

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