The Time Has Come For Columbus Blue Jackets Forward Cole Sillinger To Be Sent To The AHL

By Dan Dukart on February 13, 2023 at 1:45 pm
Cole Sillinger protects the puck against the Edmonton Oilers
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

One month ago, we asked the question that's unfortunately been percolating for much of the season: Should the Columbus Blue Jackets demote second-year center Cole Sillinger to the AHL? 

The basics are easy to understand. He's struggled, doesn't require waivers, and his long-term development is paramount. On the other hand, would a demotion further hinder his confidence, thus stifling his sought-after growth?

Well, since then, all that's happened is Sillinger has played 10 games, averaged 15:08 in ice, and added just one assist. On the season, he's tallied a pedestrian 2-6-8 (G-A-PTS) statline in 48 games. Coincidentally, the assist came in the most recent game on the game-winning goal scored by Kent Johnson.  

Perhaps this assist could be the kick he needs to finally jumpstart his season. But after 48 games, could that really be a catalyst? 

The Blue Jackets are fortunate that Sillinger doesn't yet require waivers. While the Blue Jackets are playing out the string on the NHL season, the AHL Cleveland Monsters are in the thick of a playoff hunt and are currently on the outside looking in. Adding someone like Sillinger would be a huge boost to a team that is actually playing for stakes. Plus, Sillinger could use the opportunity as a chance to rekindle his scoring touch, where he would certainly be among the leaders in ice time and a key player on special teams.

While other young players like Kirill Marchenko and Kent Johnson (who are coincidentally his linemates) seem to be improving on an almost nightly basis, Sillinger doesn't just look like he's not improving but almost languishing. It's important to note that development is almost never linear. But it's becoming really hard to argue that Sillinger is benefiting from his current role.

The Blue Jackets have shown plenty of patience with the 19-year-old, and for good reason. But I wonder if the time has come to finally pull the plug on him at the NHL level, even for a bit, to let him flourish in an additional capacity in Cleveland.      

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