DEEP DIVES: A Well-Travelled NHLer

While some NHL players make their name known for being with a team their entire careers (Mario Lemieux, Nicklas Lidstrom, and the Sedin twins are just some examples); one player bucked the entire trend, and during his 17 years in the NHL, played for 12 different teams; and was traded nine times.


That player? Mike Sillinger.


Team 1: Detroit Red Wings (June 17, 1989 → April 4, 1995)

Perhaps poetically, Sillinger’s first NHL team was the team he stayed with the longest. Sillinger was drafted 11th overall by the Red Wings in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft following three years in the WHL with the Regina Pats.

In the Saskatchewanian capital, the 5’10” forward lit up the WHL, scoring 419 points in 266 career games; all of which has resulted in his #16 being retired in the rafters of the Brandt Center.

His rookie season in the Motor City saw him only play in three games, where he registered one assist. The rest of the season was spent in his hometown, continuing where he left off with the Pats, scoring 116 points (50g, 66a) in just 57 games.

After that, in the 1991-92 season, Sillinger spent the entirety of the season in Glens Falls, New York with the Adirondack Red Wings of the AHL. In Upstate New York, Sillinger scored 66 points (25g, 41a) in 64 games, and added a playoff-leading 28 points (9g, 19a) en route to Adirondack beating the St. John’s Maple Leafs in seven games.

The next season, Sillinger got his first real taste of big-league action, splitting the season between Detroit and Adirondack. Sillinger was a two-point-a-game player in the AHL, scoring 30 points in 15 games. In his 51 games in Detroit, he scored 21 points, including four goals.

In 1993-94, his first, and only full season with the Wings, Sillinger put up 29 points (8g, 21a) in 62 games.


Team 1.5: EC Wein (1994 → January 11, 1995)

During the 1994-95 NHL lockout, Sillinger found success overseas, playing in the Austrian Hockey League. In Austria, the only other teammate of his with NHL experience was Andrew Rymsha, who played six games with the Quebec Nordiques in the 1991-92 season.

Despite this, Sillinger still managed to put up a modest point total, scoring at a goal-per-game pace, with 13 goals (and 14 assists) in 13 games in Austria.


Team 1 (cont.): Detroit Red Wings (January 20, 1995 → April 4, 1995)

Following the end of the lockout, Sillinger returned from Austria and fit back in to the Red Wings lineup. In his 13 final games in Detroit, Sillinger managed to put up eight points (2g, 6a).


Team 2: Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (April 5, 1995 → March 15, 1996)

Sillinger’s time in the Motor City came to an abrupt end in early April, when he, along with defenseman Jason York were traded to Anaheim in exchange for defenseman Mark Ferner, forward Stu Grimson, and a 1996 6th round pick, who turned into Swedish forward Magnus Nilsson.

In 15 games to finish out the shortened ‘94-95 season, Sillinger scored seven points (2g, 5a).

The next season, Sillinger played in 64 games with the Mighty Ducks, where he potted 13 goals and added 21 assists; despite being a -20.


Team 3: Vancouver Canucks (March 15, 1996 → February 5, 1998)

In March of 1996, Sillinger was traded straight up for Russian right winger Roman Oksiuta. To close out his first season in British Columbia, Sillinger scored four points in 12 games.

The following season, his only full season in the Terminal City, Sillinger played in 78 games, scoring 37 points (17g, 20a). The Canucks however, were not successful on the ice, posting a 35-40-7 record and missing the playoffs for the first of four consecutive misses.

After that, his final season with the Canucks, Sillinger scored 19 points (10g, 9a) in 48 games before being shipped out to the City of Brotherly Love


Team 4: Philadelphia Flyers (February 9, 1998 → December 12, 1998)

After his time in Vancouver was over, Sillinger was dealt to the Flyers for a 1998 conditional 6th round pick; which was later upgraded to a 5th round pick and used to select Garrett Prosofsky back to the Canucks.

Sillinger’s time in Philly did not last long, as the now-26-year old was only in orange and black for 52 games across two seasons, scoring 25 points (11g, 14a). In Philadelphia, he played alongside Alexandre Daigle and Colin Forbes, and was sidelined for two games with a concussion in the Flyers’ five-game loss to the Buffalo Sabres in the opening round of the 1997-98 playoffs.


Team 5: Tampa Bay Lightning (December 12, 1998 → March 14, 2000)

After a disappointing start to the 1998-99 season in Philadelphia only scoring three assists in 25 games, Sillinger was shipped (alongside Chris Gratton) to the Lightning in exchange for Mikael Renberg and Daymond Langkow.

After packing his bags yet again, Sillinger joined a Lightning team that was at the bottom of the NHL. In his 121 games with the Lightning, Sillinger was a -49, and was in the penalty box a lot to start the new century. In 67 games with Tampa in the 1999-2000 season, Sillinger put up 86 penalty minutes, his highest career total.


Team 6: Florida Panthers (March 14, 2000 → March 13, 2001)

Following his time in Tampa, Sillinger drove 251.3 miles down I-75 to start the season anew with the Florida Panthers.

Sillinger lasted nearly one calendar year managing to put up decent numbers, scoring 42 points (17g, 25a) in 68 games across two seasons with the ‘Cats.


Halfway:

At this point, Sillinger had gone to six of 12 cities he would call home, playing in 585 career games, and scoring 112 goals and 169 assists, good enough for 281 points. However, Sillinger had only sniffed the second round of the playoffs once, playing in eight playoff games with the 1991-92 Red Wings.


Team 7: Ottawa Senators (March 13, 2001 → July 5, 2001)

At the 2001 NHL Trade Deadline, Florida general manager Bill Torrey flipped Sillinger to the Ottawa Senators for “future considerations”.

In Canada’s capital, Sillinger didn’t stay long, only playing in 13 games to close out the regular season and playing in four playoff games. In his 17 career games with the Sens, Sillinger managed to put up seven points (all in the regular season).


Team 8: Columbus Blue Jackets (July 5, 2001 → July 22, 2003)

For the first time in his NHL career, Sillinger was at the point where he could choose the team that he went to; entering free agency for the first time. In his first move as a free agent, Sillinger signed with the “new kids on the block” in the Columbus Blue Jackets, who had just ended their inaugural season in the NHL.

Sillinger signed a three-year, $5.5-million contract in Columbus, and in his first season in “the Discovery City”, Sillinger finished second on the team, with 43 points (20g, 23a) on the season, only behind Ray Whitney’s 61 (21g, 40a).

At 31-years of age, Sillinger began the 2002-03 season as the alternate captain of the Jackets, his first official leadership role of his NHL career.

One other first that was marked by his time in Columbus was the first time that he played two consecutive seasons as a member of only one team, as he tied last season’s point total with 42 (18g, 25a).


Team “9”: Dallas Stars (July 22, 2003 → July 22, 2003)

Sillinger’s time in Dallas was short, as he was traded to, and from the Stars on the same day. While Sillinger was headed to Dallas along with a 2004 2nd round pick that turned into Johan Fransson, long-time Stars and Kings defenseman Darryl Sydor was headed to CBJ.


Team 9: Phoenix Coyotes (July 22, 2003 → March 4, 2004)

Now on his 10th career team at the age of 32, Sillinger put up the worst season of his career in the desert, only scoring 14 points (8g, 6a) in 60 games.


Team 10: St. Louis Blues (March 4, 2004 → January 29, 2006)

After a disastrous time in Phoenix, Sillinger was traded at the 2004 trade deadline for Brent Johnson, a journeyman backup goaltender who is best known for knocking out Rick DiPietro in 2011.

However, for Sillinger, he had a career resurgence with the Blue Notes, ending the 2003-04 season with 10 points (5g, 5a) in 16 games, and adding four points (3g, 1a) in five playoff games. During these 16 games, Sillinger also was able to score his first career hat trick; netting the three goals in a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on April 12, 2004.

In 2004-05, the entire NHL season was cancelled due to a lockout, and Sillinger was unable to find a place to play in Europe; despite this, when the 2005-06 season rolled around, Sillinger came firing on all cylinders, scoring 41 points (22g, 19a) in 48 games with St. Louis, finishing eight points behind Scott Young; who played 31 more games than Sillinger in 2005-06.


Team 11: Nashville Predators (January 29, 2006 → July 2, 2006)

In the last trade of his career, Sillinger was sent to the Music City in exchange for Moscow, Russia native Timofei Shishkanov. Ending the 2005-06 season with the Preds, Sillinger managed to score 22 points (10g, 12a) in 31 games.


Team 12: New York Islanders (July 2, 2006 → August 26, 2009)

For just the second time in his career, the now-35-year old Sillinger was entering free agency. After signing with Columbus the first time, Sillinger decided to sign a three-year, $6.6-million contract with the Isles, taking him until he was 37. Fortunately for Sillinger, he could decide to buy a house in Nassau, as Long Island was the last place that he would play in his career.

Fresh off the new contract in 2006-07, Sillinger wore the “A” on his sweater, and played in all 82 games that season, scoring 59 points, tied for second on the team with Miroslav Šatan.

The following season, age was starting to get the best of Sillinger, as he only played in 59 games, scoring 14 goals and 12 assists.

Finally, on August 26, 2009 after missing all but three games of the 2008-09 season due to hip resurfacing surgery, Sillinger retired from the NHL after 17 seasons.


Retirement:

In his 17-year NHL career, Mike Sillinger had suited up in 1049 career games for the Detroit Red Wings (129), Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (77), Vancouver Canucks (138), Philadelphia Flyers (52), Tampa Bay Lightning (121), Florida Panthers (68), Ottawa Senators (13), Columbus Blue Jackets (155), Phoenix Coyotes (60), St. Louis Blues (64), Nashville Predators (31) and New York Islanders (141).

Over the course of his career Sillinger played for 12 different teams (an NHL record), and was traded nine times (tied with Brent Ashton). Despite never playing for a team for more than 200 games, Sillinger scored a career 548 points (240g, 308a); with his best statistical season coming in 2005-06 with the Blues and Predators, scoring a combined 63 points (32g, 31a) in 73 games between the two teams.


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