We continue breaking down the last 12 months for each of the Washington Capitals prospects with a review and forecast for forward/center, Garrett Pilon. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.)
Pilon, 21, is a 5’-11” right handed centerman drafted by the Capitals in the third round (#87 overall) of the 2016 NHL entry draft. “Peels” signed a three-year entry-level contract on March 30th, 2017 at $925,000 AAV. Pilon is waivers-exempt for the coming season.
Pilon spent the previous three seasons playing in the WHL, where he has posted fairly impressive offensive numbers. He started with Kamloops for the 2015-2016 season where he registered 15 goals and 32 assists.
He totalled 20 goals and 45 assists the following year. Pilon ended his the 2016-2017 with a brief stop in Hershey, playing in one playoff game.
During the 2017-2018 season he registered 18 goals and 26 assists in 39 games before being traded to the Everett Silvertips where he added another 16 goals and 20 assists in 30 games played. He finished the regular season with 34 goals and 46 assists in 69 games played. He added another 11 goals and 17 assists in 22 postseason games. Pilon’s 2017-2018 season included three hat tricks, Including a postseason hat trick on March 24th against the Seattle Thunderbirds in Game 2 of the Western Hockey League (WHL) playoffs.
2018-2019 SEASON SUMMARY
Like most AHL rookies, Pilon’s start to the season was rather quiet, as he didn’t net his first AHL goal until December. But things picked up for Pilon, as he began to find his way in the AHL game. Pilon would ultimately be named Hershey’s rookie of the year on April 15.
On the season, Pilon registered 10 goals and 23 assists in 71 games played, with six of his 10 goals and five assists coming in the last 14 games of the season. Pilon finished the postseason with five assists in nine games played.
2018-2019 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following month-by-month breakdown is an aggregation of our monthly prospect reports prepared during the 2018-2019 season. You can find all of our monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
Pilon has played in all 11 games for the Bears, registering no goals and four assists. He has registered just 15 shots so far this season. Pilon has yet to find the back of the net for his first professional goal, but the rookie has played well overall. He scored 34 goals and 46 assists in junior hockey last season. He has contributed four assists. The goals and points will come as Pilon becomes more comfortable with the professional game. The son of former NHL defenseman Rich Pilon has played a responsible game on both ends of the ice. That is a credit to him because playing center has a lot of responsibilities. Also, Pilonhas not taken a single penalty. Once he starts scoring, Pilon will be a good two-way player for the Bears. Pilon finished October centering the third line with O’Brien and Whitney. Pilon signed a three-year entry-level contract on March 30th, 2017 at $925,000 AAV. Pilon is waivers-exempt for the coming season.
Pilon has yet to pot his first professional goal. Like most of his fellow rookies, he has struggled to find the back of the net. He has four assists in November, which matches his total for October. Those four assists all came in a three-game period from November 10 to November 16. The pivot’s play in his own zone has been trending in the wrong direction. He is minus-6 in his last three games and minus-8 for the month. He was even after October. Pilon has not been a plus player in any of his games in November. He posted a plus in four games in October. His offensive struggles are affecting his entire game. Pilon needs to focus on the little things and start playing well in his own end. Then, he can build on that and turn up his offense.
Pilon put up three points in December, netting two goals and adding an assist. He has shown signs of life offensively, but needs to put up points on a more consistent basis. Pilon had an assist in the first game in December and then potted a goal in his third. It looked like he was going to go on a scoring streak. However, he then went six games without a point. On the other end of the ice, Pilon continues to struggle. He was a minus-6 for the month. He has struggled in his own zone and has to do a better job on the back check. When he starts doing that, Hershey’s coaching staff will likely reward him with more ice time.
January was a strong month for Pilon. He amassed seven points, a goal and six assists, to run his season point total to 18. More importantly, the pivot has improved his game in his own end. His back-checking has gotten a lot better. He was a minus once in 10 games in January. In December, he was a minus seven times. January was the first month in which he finished with a plus rating (plus-3). This improvement has allowed Pilon to gain more ice time because the coaching staff is starting to trust him on both ends of the ice. He has been a steady presence in the lineup, as he is one of three players to suit up in all 44 games.
After a slow start to his professional career, Pilon has come on strong since the calendar flipped to 2019. He has 12 points in 2019 after amassing 11 in the first three months of the season. He netted two goals and added three assists in February. More importantly, Pilon has improved his game defensively. Earlier in the season, he did not see a lot of ice time because this area was lacking and his back-checking skills left a lot to be desired. This has changed. In a game on February 13 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pilon hustled back into the defensive zone and prevented a goal. The play shows the improvement the rookie pivot has made in his own end. He was a plus-4 in February to make him a plus-7 in 2019. He was a minus-14 during the first three months of the season. The improved play in his own end has led to Pilon getting more ice time.
Heading into March, Pilon had five goals. He scored five goals in the month to run his total to 10 for the season, also adding three assists to finish the month with eight points. The biggest goal he scored in March was an overtime game-winner over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on March 19. Pilon has found his game the last few months. He struggled early in the season, but now looks confident. He has improved in his own zone and that has led to his ice time rising. Pilon has the most goals (10), assists (21), and points (31) of any Hershey rookie.
Pilon had no goals and five assists in nine games played in the postseason.
Pilon possess a pro-level skillset, with smart play at both ends of the ice. With good hands and puck and stick handling, he sees the rink well, knows how to find open space and has excellent passing capabilities. Pilon also has a bit of grit when needed. He is also good at the faceoff dot. Pilon showed the most developmental progress of all rookies in Hershey this past season.
Pilon has an outside shot at seeing some time in Washington as early as this fall. He caught Capitals coaches attention in last year’s training camp, and with a good camp this fall, could fight for a bottom six spot.
Most likely he will return to Hershey where he will be looked to provide scoring for a team in desperate need of improved offensive production. Pilon also has leadership potential, and will be looked to provide team leadership, particularly for the new faces reporting this fall.
Look for Pilon to post his first 20-goals season in 2019-2020.
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Interview: Garrett Pilon – The Capitals 2016 Third Round Draft Pick Hungry for Success