REGINA -- Regina's Cole Sillinger is projected to be a mid-first round pick at Friday's NHL Entry Draft.

Sillinger scored 22 goals and racked up 31 assists for a total of 53 points in 48 games with the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers in the 2019-2020 season.

Sillinger opted to play south of the border during the 2020-2021 season with a total of 46 points over the course of 31 games as a member of the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede. His play also earned him the league's Rookie of the Year award.

Although his time in Sioux Falls was primarily motivated by the uncertainty over the WHL season during the pandemic, Sillinger said he valued the opportunity.

"If there was no COVID, I probably would've never went down to the USHL. I'm a big believer that everything happens for a reason, I am glad that I was able to go experience a new league, new organization and meet new people," Sillinger said.

Willie Desjardins, the general manager and head coach of Sillinger's major junior club, said his high level of play south of the border is not surprising.

"I liked the fact that he wanted to go down and play, he wanted to prove he should be picked in the draft and hopefully picked high," Desjardins said. "You wouldn't believe how many teams have called me on him and how many teams have said he's one of the best interviews they've had in the last ten years."

The final ranking from NHL Central Scouting projects him at the 10 slot for North American skaters, drawing a possible parallel to where his father, Mike Sillinger, was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings with the 11th overall pick in 1989.

"Our draft class is kind of wide open after those first couple picks, so it'll be interesting to see what happens," Sillinger told CTV News ahead of the draft. "If I do end up happening to go 11th right where my dad went, that'd be pretty special and would for sure be some bragging rights."

Other names in this year's draft familiar to Saskatchewan hockey fans include Saskatoon-born netminder Carter Serhyenko, Yorkton product Ryder Korczak and Saskatoon's Nolan Allan.

The 2021 NHL Entry Draft is set to begin Friday at 6 p.m. Saskatchewan time.