Current Team: Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Date of Birth: October 10, 1996
Place of Birth: Prince Albert, SK (Canada)
I suspect, deep down, if you asked Ryan Pilon if he wishes he was draft eligible next year, he might say yes.
Not only is Pilon a member of a very deep draft year for d-men, but he has the luck (good or bad depends on your perspective) to be paired up on D with one of the hottest prospects in that class in Ivan Provorov.
That's not all bad - if nothing else, it means lots of scouts are getting a good look at the Saskatchewan native, but it also means that every time he takes the ice, he'll be compared and contrasted to his partner, and you wonder if that's hurt his draft stock as much as it may have helped.
Because he's been playing the defensive anchor to Provorov's more free wheeling attack, he's earned a lot of props for his two-way play, but the relative lack of offense compared to his partner is likely to put him into the second round in the eyes of most scouts.
Pilon...is that safe, reliable, defense first blue liner who has been piling up points on a very good squad early on. He does make a solid pass but is not as offensively gifted as his stats line early in the season would suggest. Pilon does a good job handling some of the bigger WHL forwards with his physical play and strength as well as the smaller, faster attackers with sound positioning and an active stick. At his best when he keeps it simple and just focuses on keeping his zone clean. -Future Considerations
A strong two-way defenceman with the work ethic, determination, and skill to get the job done in all situations. Possesses a quick, accurate release on his shot. Pilon is a smooth skater and is able to quarterback plays as he sees the ice very well. He exhibits very good decision making in all three zones. -Elite Prospects
A Good Fit In Columbus?
In an ideal world, it would be fascinating to grab Provorov and Pilon with the Jackets' first and second round picks, and give them time to develop together. Putting a "natural" pairing together who can grow into the NHL game and develop their rapport would be a powerful advantage, especially if the team can give them some time in the AHL to round out their game.
That said, even if Columbus doesn't get Provorov, there's a lot to like in Pilon. Much like Jakub Zboril, I don't think the team would necessarily "reach" for him, unless they decided to trade back up into the late first round, but this is a guy who has made his way through quietly working like hell to build up his game, making him into a top prospect in the process. With good skating ability and positioning, he's got some excellent foundations, and the Jackets have likely gotten some detailed scouting reports thanks to his partner. I would not be shocked at all if they've got their eye on him - particularly if they've got a good opportunity to snag him in the second round.
Pilon In Action:
I found another one of those "shift by shift" breakdown videos, from Brandon's game against Prince Albert back in May. Check it out!