The Florida Panthers selected Riley Stillman with the 114th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY after the prospect defenseman posted 11 goals and 33 points in 62 games with the Oshawa Generals and it’s looking like a rather good choice.
In 2017-18, Stillman returned to the OHL and appeared in a combined 62 games for both Oshawa and the Hamilton Bulldogs, following a trade, setting new-career highs with 29 assists and 34 points. In his 33 games with Hamilton, Stillman posted an impressive +22 rating and went on to have a monster postseason, notching five goals (matching his regular season total) and nine assists, and racking up 23 PIM in 21 games as the Bulldogs won the league championship. He played in all four of Hamilton’s games at the 2018 Memorial Cup, where they were eliminated in the semi-final by the Regina Pats.
After attending training camp with the Panthers, Stillman was assigned to AHL Springfield where he played in 59 games for the Thunderbirds during the 2018-19 season, displaying a solid two-way game while totaling four goals and 13 assists. On February 26, he made his NHL debut against the Arizona Coyotes and became the first second generation player in franchise history. His father Cory played two years (2008-2010) and produced 86 points for Florida.
This season, Stillman again started out in Springfield before he was recalled and played three games with the Cats in late October / early November. He played his last game with the Thunderbirds on December 22, and has been with the Panthers since that time, becoming a mainstay in the lineup. Stillman picked up his first NHL point with an assist in a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on January 5. He is still looking for his first NHL goal. In 25 AHL games, Stillman produced three goals and three assists and posted a -8 rating. In 34 games with the Panthers, he totaled five assists, 57 blocked shots, 14 PIM and registered a -3 rating.
After appearing in 31 of the Panthers final 33 games, Stillman has earned himself a spot on Florida’s blue line once play resumes with the looming best-of-five series against the New York Islanders. Advancement would give Stillman even more playoff games which could help him shed the prospect label forever going into next season. That said, young Riley doesn’t have a lot of professional experience, and with defense being a team weak spot, a free agent signing or two could possibly push him back down to the AHL for more seasoning. However, next year’s flat salary cap will work in his favor for more playing time with the Cats as he will be in the final year of his bottom-line friendly, entry-level contract.
What does the future hold for Stillman?
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