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Drafted in the second round, 28th overall, in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection Draft. Cam Hillis played for Team Canada Red, at last year’s Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, but Hillis struggled and was held scoreless in the five-game tournament. He still needed a bit more development. Hillis spent an extra year at St. Andrew’s College before joining the Guelph Storm as an OHL Rookie this season. The wait was worth it, as Hillis immediately became one of the top rookies in the Ontario Hockey League and had an excellent draft season, despite playing for a rebuilding Storm squad.
Hillis scored 20 goals and 39 points for 59 points in 60 games. He finished second in OHL rookie scoring. The Storm made the playoffs but lost in the first-round. Hillis scored one goal and two assists in the six-game series. Hillis would again represent his country, joining Team Canada for the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. Hillis would pick up two assists in five games, but Canada suffered a disappointing upset loss in the quarterfinals.
Cam Hillis Scouting Report
Center — shoots Right
Born June 24th, 2000 — Enniskillen, Ontario
Height 5’11” — Weight 168 lbs [180 cm/76 kg]
Hillis is a superb skater. He has outstanding speed and gets there in just a few strides. He can beat defenders off the rush, going wide and cutting to the net. The speed also allows Hillis to generate breakaways through the neutral zone, and to be quick to pressure defenders on the forecheck. He is light on his skates, with outstanding agility, and the ability to make quick cuts. Hillis needs to add lower body strength and improve his balance. He could stand to be stronger on the puck, as well as to win more battles along the boards and in front of the net.
Hillis is an excellent playmaker. He has very good vision, and the ability to make a pass to teammates through tight openings. His ability to change speeds and his shiftiness with the puck opens up passing lanes off the rush. He anticipates the movements of his teammates and can quarterback things on the half boards on the power play. Hillis also creates offence through the forecheck. He pressures defenders and causes turnovers. Once he gets the puck, he can find an open man cutting to the front of the net.
Hillis scores most of his goals in tight to the net. He has soft hands and can finish in tight. However, his wrist shot and snap shot need work. He can stand to add upper-body strength. Hillis could also use a quicker release on his shot. Lack of strength is also an issue for Hillis as he can be knocked off the puck on the cycle, and can be knocked down in front of the net.
Hillis’ defensive game is a work in progress. While he supports the defence down low, his lack of size and strength is a bit of a liability. When trying to contain the cycle or win battles along the boards, he can be overpowered by bigger and stronger defenders. Hillis can also use some work on his positioning. Playing prep-school hockey before this season, he didn’t spend a lot of time in his own end, as his offensive skills would have overwhelmed that level of competition. Now playing at a higher level, Hillis could use continued coaching on refining his game in his own end. He has already gotten better as the season has gone a long, but there is a bit more work to do.
Projection and Comparison
Hillis has the potential to be a top-six forward in the NHL, but will need some time to improve his strength and clean up his defensive game. He should be back in Guelph next year. Expect to see a jump in his offensive numbers with a year of experience under his belt and a solid off-season strength program. While he is a centre in the OHL, he is likely a winger at the pro level. Hillis’ game is reminiscent of Clayton Keller, but this is a style comparison only and not an assessment of talent or potential.
The following is a compilation of some of the many highlight packages of Hillis that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
WINDSOR, ON – SEPTEMBER 24: Forward Cam Hillis #8 of the Guelph Storm moves the puck against the Windsor Spitfires on September 24, 2017 at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)