Defenseman Riley Stillman got a great opportunity for development this summer when he attended BioSteel camp in Toronto. The camp, run by training guru Matt Nichol, is flush with NHL talent, from Connor McDavid to Leon Draisaitl to Tyler Seguin. Stillman paid attention to blueliners such as Erik Gudbranson and Michael Del Zotto, but it’s fair to say the youngster has never had to worry about NHL influence.
Stillman is the son of two-time Stanley Cup winner Cory Stillman, and Riley was fortunate enough to see his dad play in multiple markets before Cory retired. “I saw both Cups,” he said. “I was there for both of them"
Stillman cites players such as Dany Heatley, Nathan Horton and Ray Whitney among those who made him feel at home in the dressing room during those formative years. “That’s part of the reason I am where I am today,” Stillman said. “Seeing those guys prepare and get ready, it morphed me.”
The Stillman household was a competitive one. Riley has a younger brother, Chase, who now plays for Cory, the coach of OHL Sudbury. Growing up, any sport was fair game, and sometimes Cory’s sons fought. “Most of the time he just let it go,” Riley said. “And when we played against him, he’d kill us. We’d get mad and say, ‘Again, again, again!’ We had such a competitive family, it was great.”
A Florida fourth-rounder in 2016, Stillman won an OHL title with Hamilton in 2017-18 after spending most of his junior career in Oshawa. He’s now in his second pro season with AHL Springfield but made his NHL debut last year in Arizona. Stillman had to rush across the country to make the game, arriving just in time for warmups.
He’s known as a defensive defenseman, but learning to shut down men instead of boys is the current challenge. “Back in junior, I could bully people and push them around more than I can in pro, where guys are the same size or bigger than me,” he said. “It was a learning curve, but at the end of the day, it’s the same game.” – Ryan Kennedy