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Sillinger covers the globe working with Oilers prospects

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers
Sillinger ended his NHL career with the New York Islanders before moving on to join the Oilers this past September.

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There may not have been a member of the Edmonton Oilers organization busier than Mike Sillinger throughout this past season. 

Hired as the Oilers' Director of Player Development in September, he had a monumental task in front of him. As a former NHL player having retired just one month earlier, he needed to familiarize himself with each and every prospect in the organization.

"They gave me a list of guys," said Sillinger. "They really wanted me to focus on four or five guys in the minor league system, then the East Coast League system."

Sillinger did spend a lot of time with the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Springfield and their ECHL affiliate in Stockton but he covered far more ground than that.

The former centreman went as far as Timra, Sweden, travelled to Finland, stopped in many colleges and junior hockey cities across North America and more.

Sillinger wanted to ensure that before he started working with the prospects he had a good knowledge base of his own.

"I wanted to see what kind of player they were before I made communication with them," he remarked.

Once he had that information, Sillinger went to work.

"My job is basically as Director of Player Development to guide, lead or mentor our draft picks in the organization," he said. "As a player, it's been there, done that. I'm kind of the voice of reason. I want to be able to build a relationship with these players so they can trust me so we have some kind of communication level."

Sillinger identified what the players needed to work on and provided a good guidance for them. He also reported back to Oilers management on each player's progress or lack thereof. 

"I try to mentor them along the way to the National Hockey League."

The biggest adjustment for Sillinger himself may have been going from being an NHL player to a front office role. The 38-year-old pivot had a career that spanned 12 NHL teams over 18 years. He scored 240 goals and picked up 548 points in 1049 career games.

"You talk to any ex-player and all ex-players will say they definitely miss the game. You got players saying play as long as you can because once you're done the real work starts," Sillinger began.

"No question, it's a lot of work. I had a long, healthy career but my career ended with injuries," he said of a 2008-09 campaign that saw him play only seven games for the Islanders. "The transition was pretty easy. I retired in August of 2009 and started with the Oilers a month later in September."

Sillinger joined the Oilers right before the start of camp so he had to be a quick study.

"The big part was understanding how everything works from the management side. I just find it really interesting."

Always a complete player in terms of his great two-way play and faceoff ability, he wants to inject a lot of that into the Oilers' prospect base in addition to strong character traits.

"I really took pride in being a good teammate. Now, I try to lead and guide them as far as being the total package."
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