We continue our annual prospect review and forecast series with Garret Pilon, center and winger for the Hershey Bears. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.)
Pilon, 23, 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. He signed a two-year extension with the Capitals on June 17, 2021 ($750,000/$110,000). The second year will be a one-way contract ($750,000).
Pilon spent three seasons playing in the WHL, where he 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, Pilon recorded 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 recorded three hat tricks in the 2018-18 season, including a postseason hat trick on March 24th against the Seattle Thunderbirds in Game 2 of the Western Hockey League (WHL) playoffs.
Like most AHL rookies, Pilon’s start to the 2018-2019 season was rather quiet. 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. Pilon would ultimately be named Hershey’s rookie of the year on April 15. For the season, Pilon registered 10 goals and 23 assists in 71 games played, with six of his 10 goals and five of his assists coming in the last 14 games of the season. Pilon finished the postseason with five assists in nine games played.
Pilon’s start to the 2019-2020 season was similar to his previous campaign. After a slow start, the goals and assists finally came. He recorded 18 goals and 18 assists in 61 games before the season was suspended due to the pandemic. He was 5th on the Bears in points and 3rd in goals. He shot the puck 138 times for a shooting percentage of 13.0%.
The 2020-21 season saw Pilon get off to a much better start. He would mention in early season interviews that he found motivation in not being included in the Capitals roster that departed for the playoff bubble in Toronto (He and Shane Gersich were they only two “cuts” from the Capitals pre-postseason training camp). Pilon met with Bears coaches prior to the start of his 2020-22 campaign and asked what he needed to do to improve. He would be ultimately called-up to the Capitals and make his NHL debut on May 8 against the Flyers. Fortunately and unfortunately for Pilon he would spend a good portion of the shortened season on the Capitals taxi squad, where he saw very little action.
2020-2021 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following month-by-month breakdown is an aggregation of our monthly prospect reports prepared during the 2020-21 season. You can find all of our weekly and monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
Pilon was invited to attend Capitals training camp, which began on January 3. He was re-assigned to Hershey on January 11. The Bears opened training camp on Saturday, January 23. The season began for the Bears on February 5 against the Binghamton Devils. Pilon met with Bears media on January 25:
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) January 25, 2021
The son of former NHL defenseman Rich Pilon continued to make strides as a professional player. After playing center in the season opener, Pilon moved to the right wing on the top line with Mike Sgarbossa and Joe Snively. The switch paid dividends. Pilon topped the Hershey scoring list with eight points and was tied for the third in the AHL in assists with seven. All eight of his points have came since switching to right wing.
His lone goal of the month was of the highlight reel variety against Binghamton on February 26. He pulled the puck between the legs shot and roofed a backhander into the net.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) February 27, 2021
Pilon recorded points in six of the eight games of the month and seven of his last eight, including two assists on February 27 against Binghamton. His second period shot was tipped home by Matt Moulson on the power play. In the third, he made a nice pass from below the goal line to Sgarbossa in front and Sgarbossa did not miss.
Pilon registered his second consecutive eight-point month in March. In February, the son of former NHL defenseman Rich Pilon only netted one goal. He turned that around this month. The Mineola, New York native found the back of the net three times in March, including goals in back-to-back games before being called up to the Washington taxi squad.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) March 7, 2021
Pilon recorded three multi-point games in the month to bring his season total to five. Pilon leads Hershey in points with 16 and assists with 12. He was tied for sixth in the AHL in assists.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) March 14, 2021
On Friday, March 20. Pilon (3) scored at 12:35 of the second period. Will Graber (3) and Mike Sgarbossa (4) had the assists.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) March 20, 2021
On Sunday, March 21, the Bears would tie the game with a goal from Garrett Pilon (4) at 2:50 of the second period.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) March 21, 2021
Pilon also lead the Bears with four power play assists. He was a plus eight, the best among Hershey forwards. That total also tied him for the best rating on the team with defenseman Cameron Schilling.
Pilon was re-called to the Capitals taxi squad on March 23 and has been on the taxi squad since then.
Pilon was recalled to the Capitals taxi squad on March 23rd and remained on the Capitals taxi squad for the remainder of the season. He was recalled from the taxi squad to the active roster and made his NHL debut on May 8th against the Flyers.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) May 8, 2021
Pilon finished his AHL season with four goals and 12 assists in just 14 games with the Bears.
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 remains on the cusp of fighting for a bottom six position with the Capitals. He has one of the best shots of any Capitals forward prospects, has great ice awareness and above average ability in reading plays.
Pilon will need another strong showing in training camp this year in order to make his case for a spot on the Capitals 23-man roster. He will likely begin the year in Hershey, but does have a shot at a callup for injuries.
By Jon Sorensen
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By Jon Sorensen