The Devils added size and grit to their defensive pipeline on Friday evening during the first round of the 2024 NHL Draft.

New Jersey selected 6-foot-7 Russian defenseman Anton Silayev with the 10th-overall pick of the draft.

Behind the scenes look at Anton Silayev's draft night

“He’s 6-7, great size but you quickly see his agility and footwork for that size, among the best you see at that age,” said Devils chief scout Mark Dennehy. “He’s mobile for his size with great defensive range.”

Silayev, who played for Nizhny Novgorod of the Kontinental Hockey League, was the top-ranked international skater by Central Scouting.

“He’s a pest to play against. He plays with a mean streak,” Dennehy said. “Good shot, good hands.”

Silayev after the Devils picked him 10th at the Draft

Silayev, whose head coach in the KHL is former Devil Igor Larionov, compared his game to that of Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman.

“Hockey sense, good shot, good skating, physical,” he said of his strengths. “My size, stick on puck, good reach.”

Silayev played 63 games and five playoff games last season with Torpedo, despite being 17 years old and playing among older men and veteran players. Silayev posted 11 points (3g-8a), averaged just under 20 minutes per game, had 74 blocks and 98 hits (second on the team). Silayev turned 18 after the season ended, but he finished with the most points by an under-18 player in KHL history, topping Vladimir Tarasenko’s 10 (7g-3a) in 2008-09.

Silayev credited those around him for his success.

“My teammates and coach, Igor, helped me a lot. My family supported me a lot,” he said. “Every day, hard work helped me to be better and better.”

Silayev is under contract for the next two years in the KHL. After that point, he and the Devils will decide his next move. But for next season the 211-pound blueliner has some personal goals.

“To get as much ice time (as possible), to play PK, PP and be a team leader,” he said.

The Devils select Anton Silayev in the First Round

New Jersey has now drafted a defenseman in four of the last five first rounds: Shakir Mukhamadullin (2020), Luke Hughes (2021), Simon Nemec (2022).

Most mock drafts had Silayev going as high as No. 3 overall in the draft. The Devils were fortunate to have him fall to them at 10. And vice versa.

“(New Jersey) is a good place to go,” Silayev said. “They’re a good team, good players. Lots of ambitions for the team. We know that there are only high goals, to win the Stanley Cup.”