NHL players take part in Regina hockey development program

Nashville Predators’ Tanner Jeannot and Columbus Blue Jackets’ Cole Sillinger have turned to Next Level Hockey Consulting—a local development program for elite junior and professional players—for their summer training.

“We’re privileged, humbled, and honestly honored that they choose us to come back to but I think it’s really important for Regina guys to have an opportunity to come to a program where they can get strong skates and be around people that are similar caliber,” said Next Level Hockey Consulting Co-Owner, Tristan Frei.

“They’ve put together a really good organization here. The skates are awesome, especially the 4-on-4 league, it just creates that competitiveness,” said Jeannot.

“We’ve built one big group and now it’s really good, competitive, competition. Everyone likes to see where everyone is at in the summer and we have a great group of guys here so I think that is a big part of why I still come back to Regina,” said Sillinger.

Tristan and his brother Taylor Frei as well as former Regina Pat Colby Williams established next Level Hockey Consulting in 2019. Williams signed in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) for the 2022-23 season.

Jeannot and Sillinger are both coming off successful rookie seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL).

Jeannot made his NHL debut in 2020-suiting up for 15 games- but the 2021-22 season was considered his rookie year. The winger recorded 41 points in 81 games for the Predators —who lost out in the first round of the 2022 playoffs.

“Losing out to the Stanley Cup winners, you just see what level you need to be at to win at the highest level so it was definitely a really good year I want to build off,” said Jeannot. “I definitely try and take a step back every once and awhile and just kind of realize everything that’s going on and just try to have as much fun every day because it doesn’t last forever.”

Sillinger took to the ice for 79 games with the Blue Jackets and recorded 31 points.

“I think for me it was a little unexpected, right? It doesn’t happen too often where a guy’s drafted at 17 years old and plays the following year. Especially when I wasn’t a top three pick or anything,” said Sillinger.

The two are among the “pros” group at Next Level as is former Regina Pats captain, Logan Nijhoff. The Comox, British Columbia product signed with the Anaheim Ducks American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate in April and has chosen to come back to Regina to train for the summer.

“To be able to come back to Regina, I’ve been here for five years now, and it kind of feels like home. So having all of the amenities and options is such a cool thing to have and definitely is one of the best places to train,” said Nijhoff.

“He’s always involved in our programs, always willing to help out, so for us that’s super big having a guy like that,” said Frei.

Next Level has about 35-40 pros that skate with them. However, Frei noted they lose about 10-15 around this time of year due to the European schedule starting earlier.

They also run a junior program for those in the Western Hockey League (WHL) or Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), etc. Frei noted that they have about 25-30 players on the ice and even have a waiting list.

“Every year we have guys texting us around January to get into our skates and for us we’re really honorable for being a grandfather program. If you skated last summer with us, you’re going to get a spot this upcoming summer,” explained Frei.

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