Chase Stillman Deserves a Call-Up to the NHL

The New Jersey Devils selected forward Chase Stillman 29th overall back in 2021. While he may not be a superstar, the Devils should give him a chance in the NHL in the latter half of the season.

New York Rangers v New Jersey Devils
New York Rangers v New Jersey Devils / Rich Graessle/GettyImages

The New Jersey Devils entered the 2021 NHL Draft armed with two first-round picks. The fourth overall pick (which they used to select Luke Hughes), and the 29th pick they acquired from the New York Islanders. Amid their rebuild, a second first-round pick was gold for the organization. And with that pick, they selected Sudbury Wolves forward, Chase Stillman.

At the time, and to this day, that pick was baffling. Stillman was projected second-round pick, yet Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald reached for him with that valuable extra first. Stillman went on to stay in the OHL for two more years after his draft year. Both of which were underwhelming. Stillman never managed to become a high-end scorer in his older years.

However, where Stillman did grow was in his role. Much of the scouting report on Stillman was that he lacked high-end offense and wasn't an elite skater, but had a motor that never stopped, was energetic, and highly coachable. This was a huge reason why Stillman became so important to a Peterborough Petes team that made it to the Memorial Cup.

Fast forward to this year where Stillman is playing in his first professional season with Utica in the AHL. Through 41 games he has amassed just 17 points but has scored 10 goals. Most recently Stillman recorded his first professional hat trick.

The two main reasons why Stillman deserves a call-up is because of the direction of the team this season and the investment they made in him. The Devils are on the outside looking in of the playoffs with the remaining games dwindling. Management and coaches have shown they are willing to call up the hot hand in Utica (i.e. Brian Halonen, Graeme Clarke, Samuel Laberge, and Max Willman). If the Devils decide to sell off a few players at the trade deadline, then there should be a few open spots in the NHL lineup.

Also, as mentioned before, is the investment made in him. When a player is picked in the first round there are immediate expectations that they become NHL contributors. And while Stillman doesn't have the highest offensive ceiling, it was his motor that must've caught the eyes of Fitzgerald and Devils scouts. While yes, not every first-round draft pick turns into an everyday NHLer, now may be the best time to give Stillman a look with the season looking over.