New Jersey Devils NHL Draft Pick Evaluations

The New Jersey Devils had a busy NHL Draft weekend, adding picks through trades. Let's take a look at our evaluations for each pick.
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Portraits
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Portraits / Candice Ward/GettyImages
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As we evaluated the New Jersey Devils' performance at the NHL Draft. Their goal was to land a big, physical, shutdown defenseman who could really skate for his size, play in a pro league, and be very mature for his age group. Well that player was Anton Silayev with Torpedo in the KHL. Here is a report I wrote on him earlier in the year;

Anton Silayev is a physical, big-body sasquatch of a left-handed defenseman. The way he plays is similar to a Kevin Bahl type of defenseman with a bit of offensive play to his game. Silayev has a good short and deep passing tool in his arsenal, and if he is taught to be more of a shooter, his potential can be a second-line pairing to a first-line pairing defenseman on any club. He is 6’7” and 207 pounds, so he already needs to add 15-20 pounds to his frame to be a more Chara-like build defender.

His game is very well-rounded, throwing hits and being well-positioned most of the time, even when he is out of position. He is fleet to foot on his edges with little to no wasted motion. Having a mentor and head coach in Igor Larionov got him playing at a high level, bringing heavy hits on veteran players. Silayev is only 18 years old. One of the players he absolutely reminds me of a lot hitting-wise is former Senator and New Jersey Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov. He has the ability to get the stick out and stop shots on the net and has a big build like Zdeno Chara.

Two areas of improvement for Anton Silayev this season are breakout passes and when to clear the puck out. He is gonna be in his third season in the KHL under coach Igor Larionov, so it is a matter of time until his staff helps him look more seasoned. The KHL is a much faster and more physical level of hockey than the MHL. Most analysts, including myself, didn't expect Silayev to fall to 10th overall. This young shutdown defender fits the mold of the New Jersey Devils in the near and long term.

He should be able to become a top-two-pairing defenseman. In the worst-case scenario, he becomes a phenomenal second-pairing shutdown defender who becomes part of a terrifying, hard-hitting, hard-to-beat Devils team that goes on to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup. The Devils have added more physicality this offseason in this draft class, and via trades and offseason signings so this team will be a tough out for a long time.