Realistic Expectations For Patrick Sieloff

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Photo by Clint Trahan

Patrick
Sieloff hasn’t had hurdles in his short hockey career, he’s had walls – gigantic
walls that have impeded his progression and have left many questioning his
future.

The
truly disappointing part isn’t what he’s endured the last three years, it’s the
fact that he has all the parts to the car, but hasn’t had the time to put it
together yet. I know he’s not the shiny new toy anymore, and heading into the
upcoming draft he’ll surely fade even farther out of the collective eye, but
let’s not give up on a kid who hasn’t given up on himself yet.

Let’s
take a look at Patrick Sieloff’s gravelly path and what we can realistically expect
from him next season.

PAST
EXPECTATIONS

When
Sieloff was drafted out of the U.S. National Development program back in 2012,
there was chatter that Sieloff was a consolation prize for any team who
couldn’t get their hands on Jacob Trouba. Pundits raved about Sieloff’s
punishing physicality, which was similar to his defensive partner and close
friend, Trouba.

The
Flames took Sieloff in the second round, 42nd overall, and claimed
it wouldn’t have been a reach to take him with their late first-rounder.

Needless
to say, Flames fans were pretty excited at this time once they began to delve
into all the scouting reports on the big, nasty rear-guard. Robyn Regehr was on
the back-9 of his career at this time and visions of a potential clone entering
the system made people downright giddy.

So
fan expectations were unjustly high, but management didn’t help curb those
expectations either. Feaster, at one point during the 2013-14 training camp,
said, “At
this point we feel that Patrick could be here as a seventh defenseman.”

Thankfully they didn’t follow through with that and decided to send him to
Abbotsford.

THE
WOES & MALADIES

For
a kid who’s built like a Humvee, it’s difficult to fathom just how many unfortunate
injuries he’s had in his short career. One of the biggest problems is that Humvee
frame comes with a Humvee style of play and when you play like that, avoiding
injuries is like avoiding mosquitoes in the Yukon.

It
all started in his rookie OHL season with the Windsor Spitfires where his
2012-13 campaign ended early because of a hip injury. That’s 23 games of vital development
gone.

Then
in a 2013-14 pre-season game against the Colorado Avalanche, Sieloff suffered a
broken cheekbone and was forced to wear a shield, but could still play. Ultimately,
management chose to send to Sieloff to the Abbosford Heat for his first professional
season. It’s still up for debate whether that was or wasn’t the best decision.
One may argue that having two short USHL seasons and abbreviated junior career in
the OHL simply didn’t allow for sufficient ripening. Sieloff could have been sent back to Windsor for
an overage season, and hindsight being what it is, may have been the more
prudent decision.

Either
way, the 20-year-old found himself in the Lower Mainland, playing top-6 minutes
when just two games into the 2013-14 season he mysteriously disappeared from line-up.
He wasn’t around the dressing room. He wasn’t in the press box. He had just
disappeared. It was discovered a short time later that Sieloff had developed a life-threatening
staph infection that required an intravenous and antibiotics to be hanging off
of him at all times.

If
you’ve been keeping count, that’s just under 100 games lost due to injury for
Sieloff to this point. That’s about a season and a half of crucial junior
hockey experience for a 20-year-old prospect.

At
this time you’re looking at an ox of a human being off the ice, but a green 19
year old in a developmental sense.

All
of these maladies precede what must have been a frustrating past season for
Sieloff. We all knew Adirondack’s blue line was going to be as crowded as a
Madison Avenue elevator last season. Everyone took their turn in the press box,
but Sieloff seemed to take a lot of turns. You could see the lost time in his
game this season, which I’m sure was more frustrating for him than anyone else.
He’d often get beat wide because of lost development on his footwork and would at
times make questionable decisions.

All
of this added to time in the press box or, towards the end of the season, an
experiment playing right wing. Huska’s decision to put Sieloff in a forward
checking role raised a few eyebrows initially, but hey, let’s face it, he was at
least playing hockey. Finally. In fact, Sieloff seemed to get that nastiness
back when he was at forward. He was turning his opponents into advertisements
on the boards and he got into a number of scraps.

NEW
EXPECTATIONS

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Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI

On
a brighter note, let’s look to the future. The past is the past and Sieloff isn’t
a lost project. There’s hope for him yet, but he, management and fans are going
to have to be patient and let him get caught up with lost time.

I
think the best place for him to do that is in the ECHL with the Thunder. Next
season is going to be even more crowded on the blue line and Sieloff may be the
least ready of the crop. In a
past article
I looked at how the Flames will be smart to utilize the ECHL
this season, especially with the prospect depth they currently have. I
identified Sieloff as the one player who would be a no-brainer to start there
next season.

It’s
not a punishment or capitulant to send him to minor-pro. Numerous prospects
currently in the system have come out of the ECHL improved such as John Ramage,
Brett Kulak, Joni Ortio and Turner Elson. Just last season Kulak spent 39 games
with the Colorado Eagles and came back to the AHL a more steady, heady and
well-rounded defender. Sieloff can do the same. He has a good head on his
shoulders. He’s a driven, determined young man who doesn’t act or feel like he’s
above doing time in Adirondack.

In
the end, realistically, a successful season for the Ann Arbor native will have
him start in the ECHL, work his way into a top pairing, dominate the league
defensively and physically all he wants, then perhaps mid-way through the
season join the Stockton Heat as an improved player. That’s realistically what
fans should be hoping for and realistically what is likely to happen.

  • de Animoe

    Not sure it’s fair to chalk up Sieloff as a bad pick, by all means pile on the Jankowski pick. Sieloff gets a rough ride because of the circumstances that led to his selection. A lot of respected people raved about his play in junior the year after he was drafted. He was also extremely committed to conditioning and doing the right things in the offseason (if only more prospects were like this).

    Sadly he’ll probably fall onto the large heap of players that fell short of the NHL due to injury, with his staph infection being one of the most unfair injuries I’ve ever seen.

  • de Animoe

    Lets not forget that Robyn Regher had 2 broken legs before he began his pro career. I have a good feeling about this determined and obviously very game young man. I wish him success. The odds look long for him but what a loyal soldier we could have if we give him a little more time and every opportunity to succeed.

  • OKG

    Does anyone have an accurate scouting report on Sieloff anyways, beyond “he hits really hard and don’t get no points”?

    How does he play angles? How is his breakout pass? Can he stickhandle well enough to dodge an aggressive forecheck? How is his skating? Is he closer to 6’0 200lbs or the 6’1 / 215lbs he’s listed at on AHL.com? Does he consistently make bad reads or does he make more good ones? I’ve heard he has a decent wrister that he could stand to use a bit more often, any thoughts?

    Anyways, personally way I see it is, Sieloff has two more years on an ELC which is quite a valuable amount of development time, and the Detroit school of thought also allows for passing developing fringe players through waivers on their first bridge contract, and then all of a sudden producing good players anyways (I.E. Landon Ferraro, 2009er who didn’t make the NHL til April 2015). Far from a lost cause, typical Flames fans quick to pull the guillotine on nearly our entire 2012 draft class from Jankowski, Sieloff, Kulak, and Culkin

    . Learn from the best – it takes patience ESPECIALLY with defensemen.

    • everton fc

      Best report I saw (pre staph infection) was that he had NHL level skating and physical play, stalwart in his own end but very limited in the offensive zone. Makes a decent first pass, but decision making needed a fair bit of improvement (pick better spots to hit, pinch, jump into the rush, close on forwards, etc).

    • It’s hard to scout Sieloff because he has played so little hockey in the last 3 years.

      From what I saw of him at various prospect camps, he was fairly mobile and aggressive. Probably too aggressive by my account – he kinda looked hot headed, like a guy who could be goaded into going for the hit rather than playing his position.

      He didn’t really have any puck skills or offense to speak of. He wasn’t “bad” in terms of puck distribution, but he certainly wasn’t springing anyone on break aways either. Every so often there’d be a head scratcher of a decision too, though most kids do that now and then.

      A majority of Sieloff’s formative years have been wiped out. I’d be amazed if he can climb back into the picture. Particularly because he wasn’t way ahead of the curve to begin with.

  • everton fc

    He could be a sleeper at camp later this summer. Let’s hope so, as he’s never mentioned in any of the prospect analyses anymore, particularly on defence.

  • everton fc

    Posting as “Lambert’s Boyfriend” is bush league and homophobic. Challenging someone’s point of view is fair, using sexual orientation as an attack is not.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Mike,

    Great update. You’ve answered quite a few questions I’ve had about Seiloff. Truthfully, had I not read this, I would have considered the ECHL a negative going forward, but you made a good case for this player. Thanks!

  • OKG

    Mike suggests that the ECHL is the best place for him to start the season and in many ways I agree and that is because he needs to play and there is likely little room for him at Stockton at the start of the season. Assuming the Flames resign a couple of bodies Schlemko and Ramage the squads will look something like this: Flames(Gio/Brodie, Russell/Wides, Schlemko/Engs/and the Czech), Stockton(Spoon/Ramage, Culkin/Morrison, Kulak/Kanzig and some AHL veteran). Seiloff. the big kid from Belarus and the recent AHL college kid to the ECHL for some meaningful ice time. And that is if they don’t sign any FA. Seiloff needs a chance to find his game.