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 here.)
Pilon, 24, 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 will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2022-23 season.
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 2016-2017 campaign 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 2017-18 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 game action.
Pilon’s 2021-22 campaign included another recall to the Capitals on November 17 against the Ducks in Anaheim. He recorded just one shot but the shot resulted in his first NHL goal. He would see action in two games before being returned to the Bears. For Hershey, Pilon recorded 17 goals and 25 assists for 42 points in 60 games played. He also recorded a goal and an assist in three playoff games.
2021-2022 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following is a compilation of our month-by-month prospect reports for Garrett Pilon during the 2021-2022 season. You can find all of our monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
Pilon picked up right where he left off last season. He posted 16 points in 14 games last season prior to being recalled to the Washington Capitals taxi squad.
Garrett Pilon makes it 5-2, Bears in the third. Pilon has two primary assists and a goal so far tonight. #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/LToPTcCQ02
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) October 17, 2021
Back in Chocolate Town to start this season, Pilon compiled seven points in seven games in October. The son of former NHL defenseman Rich Pilon began the season with a three-point game with a goal and two assists, including the primary helper on the first Hershey goal of the season.
Garrett Pilon with his second PPG of the season, gives the Bears a 3-2 lead late in second period. #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/XBXFCL8PoI
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) October 23, 2021
Pilon leads the Bears with four goals and is tied for second in points with seven. His goal in Charlotte on October 23 tied the game with 7:12 left in the third. Pilon has been going to the front of the net and has been rewarded by scoring on deflections and converting rebounds.
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby blasts one from the left side, redirected by Garrett Pilon, his 4th tally of the season. Bears lead 2-1 late in 3nd frame. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/zJ71T91esx
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) October 31, 2021
For the month of October Pilon recorded four goals and three assists in seven games played. He recorded 28 shots for a 14.8% shooting percentage.
Pilon tallied in his last three games with the Bears. The first of those was of the highlight reel variety and it came against Charlotte on November 14. He sped into the offensive zone, pulled the puck back and then dragged it through two Charlotte players. The Mineola, New York native then slid his shot through the five-hole of Charlotte goalie Joey Daccord to give Hershey a 1-0 advantage in the first period.
Garrett Pilon is filthy. Bears lead 1-0. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/wuuneFP286
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) November 14, 2021
Pilon then got the call to go up to the Capitals the following day and played two games with Washington. He netted his first career NHL goal against the Anaheim Ducks when he deflected a Martin Fehervary shot into the net in the third period.
Garrett Pilon with his first NHL goal, tying it up at 1 for the Capitals in the third!#ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/X3khM32NTM
— Hockey Daily 365 (@HockeyDaily365) November 17, 2021
The son of former NHL defenseman Rich Pilon returned to the Bears and scored a goal on November 24 and 26.
Garrett Pilon scores in his first game back with Bears. Game tied 2-2. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/8QmgSo4Yli
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) November 25, 2021
In addition to his three November goals, Pilon also had three assists. On the season, he has 13 points, third most of the team. Pilon is also tied for second on the team in goals with seven.
Pilon and Beck Malenstyn were guests on the “Break the Ice” podcast with Mike Vogel in November.
Pilon played in the first seven games of the month before entering COVID protocols and being out for the final two games of December. The Mineola, New York native was without a point in the first three games of the month before picking up the primary assist on Matt Moulson’s second period goal in Springfield on December 17.
He followed that helper with another primary assist in the next game at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. This time Ryan Dmowski was the beneficiary of Pilon’s feed on a nice passing sequence.
The son of former NHL defenseman Rich Pilon, Garrett netted his lone goal of the month in a 4-3 loss to Rochester on December 19. 56 seconds into the third period, he burst down the right wing and cut to the center. He ripped a quick wrist shot that rang off the post and in.
Garrett Pilon 56 seconds into final frame, scores his 8th of the season, gives Bears a 3-1 lead. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/qv4f4Q6Plk
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) December 19, 2021
Pilon sits in a tie for second on the team’s scoring list with 17 points. He is tied for the team lead in goals with eight and power play goals with three.
Pilon provided the Bears with another productive month in January. His first goal of the month came against the Bridgeport Islanders on January 2.
Nice pick by Axel Jonsson-Fjallby opens shot for Garrett Pilon, who scores his 9th of the season. Bears lead 2-1. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/fUtQhD5F9b
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) January 2, 2022
Pilon registered the game-winning goal against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on January 9. It was his first game-winner of the season.
Garrett Pilon with his 11th of the season, a ppg midway thru the third, give Bears a 3-1 lead. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/ePLiZoWhHu
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) January 10, 2022
Pilon scored his 12th of the season on January 15 against the Toronto Marlies. He would take the puck from well inside the Bears end, split the Marlies defense and dish to Jonsson-Fjallby who would give it back for the finish.
Goodness gracious, Garrett Pilon. Bears lead 2-1. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/pGUT7XjCa4
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) January 16, 2022
Pilon dished out three assists versus Hartford on January 22, including the primary assist on Axel Jonsson-Fjallby’s hat trick goal in the third period. It was his first three assist game since November 27, 2019, against Providence.
The son of former NHL defenseman Rich Pilon leads Hershey with five power play goals and tied for second on the team in scoring with 28 points. Pilon is also tied for second on the Bears with 13 goals and sits in a tie for third in assists with 15.
Garrett Pilon gets the Bears on the board. Nice rush and finish with the wrap-around. Pens lead 2-1. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/ZZSDY9eHli
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) January 26, 2022
The Mineola, New York native potted five goals in the month and also recorded six helpers.
The Mineola, New York native returned from injury after missing two games for the matchup in Cleveland on February 4. Pilon picked up an assist on Mike Vecchione’s first period power play goal. In the second period, he was checked into the boards near the benches. Pilon left the game and did not return to the contest.
Play where Garrett Pilon was injured (again). Left shoulder. It was his first game back after previous injury. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/xqQKItGjwm
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) February 5, 2022
Pilon did not play in another game during the month, but did resume skating late in February.
After spending much of the season at right wing, injuries have now forced Pilon back to center. The Mineola, New York native has been a steady presence in the lineup for the Bears, suiting up in all 12 games in March.
Pilon registered a multi-point game in Springfield on March 4. He potted the first Hershey goal in the second period when he lifted a backhander over Charlie Lindgren. Pilon then picked up the primary assist on Cody Franson’s game tying goal with 13 seconds left in the game.
Garrett Pilon gets credit for this one. Not sure if he touches it, but regardless it’s 3-0 Bears. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/S4DS9dP6zk
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) March 9, 2022
He tallied the third goal for the chocolate and white in a 4-0 win over Lehigh Valley on March 8. His final goal of the month rallied the Bears from three goals down to force overtime in Hartford on March 26.
Garrett Pilon (16) with a power play tally gets the Bears on the scoreboard. Wolf Pack lead 3-1 late in 2nd period. #ALLCAPS #HBH pic.twitter.com/UTfVGq6V7S
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) March 27, 2022
Pilon leads the team in goals with 16 and is tied for third on the team scoring list with 34 points. He has the ability to go on a hot streak offensively and the Bears could use one of those streaks with the injuries they have up front.
Pilon snapped a 12-game goalless drought when he tallied Hershey’s second goal in the regular season finale against Syracuse on April 24.
Garrett Pilon is FILTHY!. 3-2 game. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/6kN2revw71
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) April 24, 2022
His lack of goal scoring has contributed to the overarching problem for a Bears team that has been offensively challenged. He too often looks for a pass when he has an open look at goal. The Mineola, New York native needs to shoot more. Pilon did that in the final regular season game, firing six shots. He needs to continue to do that in the playoffs.
The son of former NHL player Rich Pilon split time between center and right wing during the month. He did dish out seven assists in April, tied for the most on the team. Pilon finished second on the Bears scoring list with 42 points in 60 games played. He topped the team in goals with 17 and shared the team-lead with six power play goals.
Pilon, 24, continues to be a player on the fringe for the Capitals. September could be the biggest month of his career to date, considering the roster questions the Capitals are expected to be facing when training camp opens this fall.
Pilon will be one of several prospects battling for a roster spot when camp opens. He can provide as much scoring as any of the other prospect candidates, but will need to demonstrate that his physicality and defense is NHL-caliber, and at an equal or better level than other prospects in camp.
It’s likely Pilon begins the season in Hershey, but will be one of the first recalls when the Capitals need a center or winger as the season progresses.
By Jon Sorensen
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It’s now or never for Peel Going on 25, time is running out
I have always like Pilon. Question is where is he going to play? At center does he beat out Kuzy…no, Lapierre….no, McMichael…..no, Down…..no, Eller…..maybe, Protas…..no, Gersich…..tie, Malenstyn…..no. So this young man has his work cut out for him to make the roster this year as a center. Problem is I liken hi Chandler stephenson….a late bollmer that when given the chance can produce on any line.
You nailed, Steven. I’ve also been a personal fan of “Peels”, and believe he has skills as a playmaker and scorer. Plenty of competition at the forward spot. You also left out Snively. Tall order.