CANADIAN JUNIORS UPDATE: BREAKING DOWN CHASE STILLMAN
On Friday night against Oshawa, Chase Stillman scored his eighth goal of the season for his 100th career OHL point. Only a week before that prior to the game against Mississauga, Stillman had only three goals on what was looking like a mediocre season. Then Stillman exploded against the Steelheads for four goals and and an assist and seems to have elevated his play since. This post delves a little bit into Stillman’s big night.
if anyone was wondering Chase is still the man pic.twitter.com/zy8zq8Iwhw— Peterborough Petes (@PetesOHLhockey) November 19, 2022
On the first goal, Mississauga puts on a clinic on how not to defend a 5-3. Othmann passes to Avon, who shoots at a bad angle. As Avon gets his own rebound behind the net, one defender follows him and the other two Steelheads collapse to the goal line to puck watch, leaving everyone else wide open. By the time Avon retrieves the puck, Peterborough’s formation almost looks like a set up in practice where four players are lining up to scramble in front of the goaltender without anyone defending in order to put the puck in the net one more time before going to the locker room to make way for the Zamboni.
Stillman camps out in the slot all alone because why not if the other team concedes it? He giddily taps his stick, gets the pass he was looking for and buries it. Stillman makes a great shot, but nobody who wants to be a professional hockey player should miss from there. Stillman doesn’t. 1-0 Peterborough.
*DJ Khaled voice* anotha one pic.twitter.com/PrvWEegfVb— Peterborough Petes (@PetesOHLhockey) November 19, 2022
Goal two is a bit lucky. After a bad clearing attempt by Mississauga, Stillman fires a “knuckleball” as the announcer puts it on goal from the point and it finds a way in. It looked like Stillman was just trying to keep the puck in the zone as he’s skating backwards toward the line and maybe hoping for a deflection, but he scores. The goalie almost certainly wants this one back.
To complete the natural hattrick, Stillman tipped in a shot from the point from the high slot. It’s a really good tip. The play is started by recent acquisition and Rangers prospect Brennan Othmann passing it to Kraken prospect Tucker Robinson, who makes a really nice pass to Samuel Mayer. The blueliner sees Stillman drifting back to create space between himself and the Mississauga defender and shot passes the puck to him. Stillman redirects the puck into the net. Great all around play by all players involved.
backhand or besthand pic.twitter.com/8AZux1lzNx— Peterborough Petes (@PetesOHLhockey) November 19, 2022
Stillman’s fourth point of the night is an assist. It’s a bit of a choppy play. Stillman carries the puck into the zone and tries to chip pass it his teammate, but the Mississauga defender deflects the puck back. The defender chases the puck and converges on Stillman along with a Steelhead backchecker. Stillman slips the puck by both of them to an oncoming Sahil Panwar, who buries a nice backhander past the goalie.
Chase Stillman has officially scored more goals tonight than he had going into this game pic.twitter.com/D6BMawgCFo— Peterborough Petes (@PetesOHLhockey) November 19, 2022
Goal four is a highlight reel goal. The Steelheads defender makes an ill-advised pass up the middle under pressure. Stillman picks off the pass, comes in all alone, makes a little deke and buries it top shelf. This is the type of goal players put on their personal reel for scouts. It’s a beautiful play to cap off a great evening for Stillman.
STILLMAN’S SEASON AT A GLANCE
Stillman currently has eight goals and ten assists in 20 games for the Peterborough Petes. Peterborough is currently second in the East Division behind the Ottawa 67’s and their 81 team goals are tied for 7th in the league so the Petes do not have a problem scoring goals. Stillman’s eighteen points puts him 4th on his team and 71st in the entire league. Leafs prospect and former fifth round pick Ty Voit leads the OHL with 40 points. So, Stillman’s numbers are still far from ideal for a former first round pick.
Points aren’t entirely predictive of NHL futures, especially when it comes to the OHL. Even though Ty Voit has 40 points in 24 games and has a real shot to make the NHL, Voit is not widely-considered a top prospect due to his lack of NHL speed for a player of his size. [Corey Pronman; The Athletic $] So, what does that say for Stillman?
According to scouting reports, the 6’1’’ Stillman is a “very strong skater” with “excellent acceleration.” [Last Word on Hockey] These attributes bode well for a potential future in the NHL. If you could somehow mash Ty Voit’s offensive ability with Chase Stillman’s skating and intangibles, one would have a very, very good player. Unfortunately, hockey hybrids aren’t a real thing, so where does that leave Stillman?
As Mason Gallina of the Hockey Writers correctly points out, Stillman has been “often scrutinized for his lack of offensive production for a 20-year-old playing in the Ontario Hockey League.” [TheHockeyWriters] Readers of this site know that Stillman’s lack of offensive production has been much discussed on the comments section of these boards ever since the pesky winger was drafted 21st overall. I highly suggest everyone reread John’s well-written post on the pick when it was made as the concern over Stillman’s lack of offensive production is hardly a new phenomena. The Devils left a lot of talent on the board to select Stillman in the first round. Names such as Scott Morrow, Autu Raty and Logan Stankoven may haunt the Devils in the not-too-distant future.
A CONCLUSION OF SORTS
So, what to make of Chase Stillman? I’ve been avoiding a direct answer to this question as it is still very hard to say. Nights like the one Stillman had against Mississauga make me believe that Stillman has the ability to become an interchangeable swiss army knife-like forward, who can shift seamlessly up and down the lineup (much like Fabian Zetterlund has been utilized). However, Stillman will have to show far more offensive consistency to reach that level and be able to compete in the NHL above a fourth line energy role.
On draft day, Stillman looked like a pesky, hard-forechecking two-way winger with a relentless motor, similar in style to Blake Coleman, albeit with a little less offensive punch and a still-developing defensive game and I believe that still holds true today. Stillman will almost certainly need more time to develop in the AHL, but I believe that he will, in all likelihood, become a NHL player one day. When all is said and done, whether Stillman maxes out as a tweener, a bottom six mainstay or something more remains to be seen. Given all of Stillman’s unique attributes, if the winger does start to pop offensively; however, the Devils will really have something special or as Mason Gallina puts it “an incredible foundational piece.” That’s still a mighty big “if” though. Lets hope that he does and proves the doubters wrong.
CANADIAN JUNIOR UPDATE
It’s early yet, but Josh Filmon looks like he could be a 6th round steal for the Devils. The lanky 18-year-old forward is starting to grow into his 6’3’’ frame and has broken out this season with 21 points in his first 18 games including 12 goals for a 43 goal pace (in 64 games). A fun, meaningless fact, but Filmon’s 21 points currently (as of Saturday night when this article was written) leads all Devils prospects across all leagues. [Elite Prospects]
For fans of “tools,” Filmon has those as well according to scouting reports. One caveat: Filmon is shooting at an unsustainable 23% rate, so it will be interesting to see how long he can keep up his goal-scoring prowess. Filmon is currently tied for 27th in the WHL in goals, but is only three goals behind a tie for 6th. Phenom prospect and soon-to-be first overall pick in 2003 Connor Bedard leads the league with 22 goals in 24 games.
Chase Stillman recently scorched Mississauga in a four goal, five point night. Stillman seems to be finding some chemistry with newly-acquired Rangers prospect winger Brennan Othmann and Flyers prospect center Jon-Randall Avon, in what I am dubbing “the Future Rivals line.” Stillman still needs to elevate his offensive game to a higher level, but his recent play is encouraging. Stillman already signed his ELC with the Devils, so look for him to make his debut with Utica after his season ends.
Thus far, Tyler Brennan has not improved on last years numbers for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL. As the WHL is a high scoring league, this is not too discouraging. What is discouraging; however, is that Tyler Brennan seems to be being outplayed by his 18-year-old teammate Ty Young, who is 7-3 with a .908 save percentage and a comparable 3.35 GAA.
Brennan, who will be 20 years old at the start of next season, should be eligible to play in the AHL next year should the Devils decide to sign the young netminder in the offseason. If the Devils believe that Akira Schmid is ready to backup Vitek Vanecek full time next year, GM Tom Fitzgerald will be looking for another goalie to play with Nico Daws on the Comets. Tyler Brennan, who is only one year removed from the draft that had him ranked the top North American goaltender in his class by central scouting, could be one of those options.
CANADIAN JUNIOR PROSPECT OF THE MONTH
This month’s honors goes to Josh Filmon for his breakout performance to start the season. Stick tap, Mr. Filmon. Keep it going.
AROUND THE POOL
- Big Shak did his best Luke Hughes impression on this goal.
- Byron Bader dropped this comparison of Luke Hughes and Dougie Hamilton:
Imagine Luke Hughes and Dougie Hamilton, two replicas of one another in the model, playing on a pair together in the next few years. Gonna be very satisfactory. pic.twitter.com/PQc0RYEspV— Byron Bader (@ByronMBader) November 27, 2022
- It looks like Ethan Edwards is getting comfortable after returning from injury.
Ethan Edwards (NJ) with a puuurdy goal - showing off the strength.— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) November 26, 2022
Yes, New Jersey apparently has ALL of the defensive prospects in the world pic.twitter.com/sxB0LQ0g1o
- The Utica Comets split two overtime decisions this past weekend. On Friday night, the Comets lost 3-2 in overtime to Charlotte. Goaltender Nico Daws stopped 24 of 27. Andreas Johnsson (3) and Ryan Schmelzer (1) scored for the Comets. Alexander Holtz assisted on Johnsson’s goal. That was Holtz’s second assist since returning to the AHL. On Saturday Night, Alexander Holtz (1) scored the game-winner in overtime to give Issac Poulter his first career AHL win. Nolan Foote (6) and Graeme Clarke (3) also scored for the Comets. [TheAHL.Com]. Here’s a look at the game-winning goal by Holtz, which he scores on a 2 on 0 with Andreas Johnsson.
Will Chase Stillman’s big night be a catalyst for good things to come or a blip on the radar? What do you think of Josh Filmon’s breakout season thus far? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Next week cycles back to the Devils European prospects with a spotlight on the offensive breakout season of Topias Vilen, who after scoring all of zero goals last year for the Lahti Pelicans, currently (at the time this article was written on Saturday night) not only shares a lead for all defensemen in the SHL with six goals, but is only three goals shy from being in a tie for third for all skaters in the entire league. The Devils prospect pipeline is stacked on the blueline. As such, Vilen has flown a little under the radar, but his newfound offensive game, coupled with his already well-established strong defensive IQ and high-end motor, should vault him into the conversation.