When the Canadiens selected Cam Hillis 67th overall in the 3rd round in 2018, Trevor Timmins believed the team had acquired a high ceiling player with a tremendous skill set.
Unfortunately for Hillis, he has been off the ice more than on it over the last 2 years prior to the 2019-2020 season. He was sidelined with some major injuries and had some setbacks during the Guelph Storm’s OHL playoff run. In the 93 games, he played between 2017-2019 he has tallied 81 points. Imagine what his production would have been even if he was 90% healthy.
Since the off-season Cam has been everything we wanted him to be. He received the honor of leading his team as he was awarded the captaincy. “Cam is a natural choice to lead our program moving forward,” said General Manager and Head Coach George Burnett. Furthermore, Burnett said that despite the injuries Cam faced over the last season leading into this year, he had shown great inspiration and determination while contributing when he was on the ice and provided tremendous leadership during the season. The team believes in Hillis.
Since the start of the regular season, Hillis and the Guelph Storm have been a positive revelation. The team lost the 2019 playoff MVP Nick Suzuki, who is a regular with the Montreal Canadiens, former captain Isaac Ratcliffe who started his professional career in the AHL and as well as trading overage forward Liam Hawel to the Kitchener Rangers. Regardless of these moves they have been extremely consistent and Hillis has been one of the team’s pillars in every facet of the game. Add the chemistry he shares with 2018 undrafted forward Pavel Gogolev who has been lights out as well. It seems every time Gogolev scores, 14 goals in 23 games, it’s Hillis who sets him up. They’re truly dynamite when skating on the ice together.
Hillis has been tremendous as well. He has been sound both on the offense and defense centering the top line and he’s producing at 1.59 points per game thus far. He has already outproduced his 2018-19 totals in 10 fewer games and is on pace to surpass the 100 point plateau, something he has not done in his short junior career. Hillis is tied for 16th in OHL scoring and 9th in assists with 27. Players ahead of him include 2020 draft-eligible stars like Marco Rossi, Quinton Byfield, and Cole Perfetti.
He has also been a reliable player, rarely shorthanded with a total of 10 penalty minutes this season. A positive influence on the ice having a plus/minus rating of 18 as well as taking key faceoffs and posting a winning percentage of 57.6% (281/488). Among those who have attempted 450 faceoffs or more, Hillis is tied for 3rd with Akil Thomas and behind Ty Dellandrea 61.4%, James Willms 60.2% and is 5th in total faceoffs won. He’s been one of the better two-way centers in a league that is loaded at that position.
All in all, Cam Hillis has rebounded from a very unlucky and injury ridden season. He has persevered and made great strides in being a more healthy player. He’s on pace to have a great and productive year. All he has to do is continue his good work and it will hopefully allow him to move to the next level in his development.