Cole Sillinger emerges as this team’s top line center.
Boone Jenner starts the year as the top line center between Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine; but at some point, Cole Sillinger takes over the role.
But, he’s only 19 years old!
This one may seem like a stretch, but I think the debate about this team’s center situation is going to be answered from within. I don’t see that solution being Jack Roslovic (best suited on the second or third line) or even Kent Johnson (I think he’s a winger). Jenner has done a great job in this role, but face it: he isn’t ideal here, and is probably better suited in a third line role where he can work with the youngsters.
Sillinger is coming off of an 18 year old season where he played 79 games, scoring 16 goals and 31 points in the best league in the world. He did this while playing against top competition in arguably the most difficult position on the ice. He returns this fall as a seasoned sophomore player, who plays above his years in terms of style, and with an understanding of what it will take to compete day in and day out in the NHL. Read: 2022 Season Preview: Cole Sillinger
I think it will still take time, and even if he is injected into this role by season’s end, I expect growing pains. But, he’s the only guy on the roster that I see as a legitimate, long-term top-six center option. Why not get started now?
The fit is obvious; with Laine being the goal scorer and Gaudreau being the setup man, they need a two-way player that can keep pace with their skill. Cole Sillinger is that guy.