Names To Know: Mammoth Defender Anton Silayev Had A Historic KHL Season And Has Scouts Dreaming

By Dan Dukart on May 30, 2024 at 1:45 pm
Anton Silayev celebrates a goal in the KHL

Welcome to the 11th installment of our "Names To Know," 2024 edition, a look-ahead at prospects who the Columbus Blue Jackets could select in the upcoming NHL Draft.

Today, we're looking at Anton Silayev, a 6'7", 207-pound defense prospect from Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in the KHL. 

In 2023-24, the Russian tallied 3-8-11 in 63 regular season games in the KHL, then added 0-2-2 in five playoff games. He turned 18 in April, meaning he played a full season in a top-three professional hockey league as a 17-year-old. His 11 points are the most by a u18 player since the award came online in 2008-09, besting players like forwards Kirill Kaprizov and Nikita Kucherov. He added 74 blocked shots and 98 hits while skating a regular shift.  

Like Ivan Demidov, Silayev has been unable to play in international competitions, which has made him a difficult player to scout. Still, the secret is out, and scouts are rightly fascinated by a mammoth defender who can skate, check, and provide offense. 

The obvious player comparison is Zdeno Chara, who, as a clunky 22-year-old, put up similar numbers (2-9-11 in 65 games) in the NHL. It took him years to develop into the player he became, but the Boston Bruins were rewarded with the impatience of the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators. sums it up nicely:

The left-shot defenseman is one of the most intriguing players in the draft because of his size and developing offensive side of his game... Silayev has the potential to be a tremendous complementary piece on a top defense pair.

The Athletic's Corey Pronman lists him as his fifth-overall prospect, a future 
NHL All-Star, and listed Chara as his player comp due to his high-end compete, above-average hockey sense, and league-average skating and puck skills:

Silayev took a regular shift with power-play time on a KHL team this season as a 17-year-old. He stood out for Torpedo in the KHL playoffs, although when he went down the junior team for their playoffs he wasn't as good as expected. He is a unique type of prospect who's easy to dream on. He can play all situations, and play on his off wing. Silayev is a 6-foot-7 defenseman who skates very well for his size. He has excellent footwork and a smooth stride, with strong four-way mobility. He closes gaps quickly on his check, plays a very physical brand of hockey and thus projects to be a premier shutdown type of defenseman in the NHL. He can skate pucks out of his zone well, makes a good first pass and shows strong hockey sense at the offensive blue line. Silayev has strong puck skills, and can beat pro defensemen one-on-one often enough. His offensive play won't blow you away, but it's good enough to move pucks in the NHL. He can provide enough with the puck to go with elite defensive play to be a potential No. 1 defenseman one day.

ESPN's Rachel Doerrie, who projected him to go 9th overall, believes Silayev is a risk worth taking due to his high ceiling.

With his size and skating, he's a high-floor, high-ceiling player. At worst, he's a third-pairing, penalty-killing machine in the style of Nikita Zadorov. If he hits, he is a top-pairing minute-muncher who produces 35 points every season.

Drafting Silayev comes with plenty of risk. While most of the public mock drafts are mostly uniform, Silayev sticks out as someone who could really go anywhere from 2-15. The words most associated with him are "unique" and "unicorn". If he improves even a little bit, he's a solid NHL player with a long and productive career. But is he worth the number four pick in the draft? That entirely depends on what the Blue Jackets scouting department thinks about his ceiling. 

Mock Draft Results
ESPN 9th
My NHL Draft 6th
Tankathon 13th 3rd, 3rd
The Athletic 3rd
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