New Jersey Devils select "best player available" Anton Silayev in 2024 NHL Draft

The New Jersey Devils had a litany of options that fell to them when their number was called in the NHL Draft. They went with a behemoth defenseman out of Russia.
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - First Round
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - First Round / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The New Jersey Devils are looking at a very important 2024 NHL Draft. They have the 10th-overall pick in the first round, leading to a very interesting choice. As some surprise picks in the top 10 left very talented players in the laps of the Devils. They included Sam Dickinson, who would have been the pick in our mock draft if we thought he'd be available (our actual pick, Bennett Sennecke, went a very surprising third overall to the Anaheim Ducks).

The New Jersey Devils went with Russian defenseman Anton Silayev. Many mock drafts and prospect rankings had Silayev very high. Both New Jersey Devils writer Mike Morrealle and Adam Kimmelman had Silayev going third overall on’s mock draft

We talked about Silayev in our initial discussion of possible 10th overall picks, but as the draft rumors started to play out, it seemed like he’d be out of reach. Instead, he fell to the Devils (as did some other very talented defensemen). The Devils took the guy who shouldn’t have been available over players like Dickinson who might have been more skilled or fit a certain analytical mode.

During our previous analysis of Silayev, we went through some of the obvious. He’s incredible tall and plays unlike someone that tall does in the KHL. At 6’7, he even stands out next to other NHL athletes. 

Some say he’s not a scorer, but he broke the KHL record for under-18 scoring that was once held by Vladimir Tarasenko. That’s very impressive, especially since he’s a defenseman and not a defemseman looking to score a ton. He wants to body someone, but he’s score if you absolutely need him to. The record was just 11 points, but the fact he was able to put up anything playing for the Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo is insane.

This isn’t a slam dunk pick despite the fact other teams were mocked to take him way before this. In fact, many Devils fans are unhappy with the pick. 

That’s because this is a huge risk. Silayev could turn into Zdeno Chara. He could be the Devils best defenseman one day, even understanding they have Simon Nemec and Luke Hughes on this roster for the long term. However, he could also struggle to make the NHL. It’s just so hard to evaluate a player on such a small-level KHL club. 

Like with other Russian players, we have no idea when he will come over to North America. Maybe he’ll share an in-flight meal with Arseni Gritsyuk next offseason, but that’s yet to be seen. It shouldn’t be the only consideration since the Devils have time on their hands, but it has to be a consideration.

Overall, this was a good pick. It’s not a great pick, as we thought Dickinson would have been a great pick, but this has the upside to be the best pick in the draft outside Macklin Celebrini and Ivan Demidov.