OHL 20 in 20 Spotlight: Stillman ‘a pro in the making’

Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Though he’s just 76 games into his OHL tenure, Oshawa Generals defenceman Riley Stillman has carved out an identity for himself, earning the confidence of his coaches and teammates.

The Peterborough native collected six goals, 15 assists and 21 points in 62 games as a 17-year-old rookie last season, getting the attention of the Florida Panthers who chose him in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo this past June.

“He’s a pro in the making,” said Oshawa Generals vice-president and general manager Roger Hunt, who made Stillman a fourth round pick in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection. “He lives and breathes hockey and has really taken big strides with his game, but I don’t think he’s satisfied there. He wants to keep improving.”

The son of 1991 OHL Rookie of the Year and two-time Stanley Cup Champion Cory Stillman, Riley grew up around the game and credits his father for showing him the ropes.

“He was everything. He was my coach, my strength coach, my dad, my best friend,” he told this past summer. “He’s been everything in my life. He taught me everything – how to shoot, how to pass. We had ice when I was little at 6 a.m. before school. We’d be on the ice in Peterborough twice a week. Skills-wise, he’s done a lot – changing my shot, changing my stride. But everything has worked out for the best.”

Stillman’s NHL aspirations surfaced at a young age and ever since, he’s had one thing on his mind.

“The reason why I chose the junior route was because it came down to the fact that all I wanted to do was play hockey,” he said. “If I have to go to school after, if say things don’t work out, I can use my school package from the OHL. It came down to I just wanted to play hockey, and that was from a young age.”

Now 18, Stillman enters his sophomore season in Oshawa in an elevated role. He joins New York Islanders prospect Mitchell Vande Sompel as one of two drafted rearguards on the roster.

“Last year we recognized Riley’s maturity and leadership qualities and those are going to valuable for our club moving forward,” Hunt continued. “He’s a real student of the game and he’ll be given every opportunity to grow as a player here.”

Stillman looks to build off a solid rookie campaign and be a core piece of a Generals club that is celebrating 80 years this season. will feature one team each day in advance of the 2016-17 season which begins Wednesday September 21.

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