Silayev closeup

The 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft will be held June 28-29 at Sphere in Las Vegas. The first round will be June 28 (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS) and Rounds 2-7 are June 29 (11:30 a.m. ET; ESPN+, NHLN, SN, SN1). is counting down to the draft with in-depth profiles on top prospects, podcasts and other features. Today, a profile on defenseman Anton Silayev of Torpedo in the Kontinental Hockey League.'s full draft coverage can be found here.

Anton Silayev was already a big kid and a little naive at the time he received career-altering advice from his youth hockey coach when he was 8 years old.

"I was playing forward when I was 4 with my hometown team in Sarov (Russia), but after the second period of a game four years later, Coach came up to me and said I was too big for forward and should try defense," Silayev told "It's kind of worked out."

Worked out, indeed. The left-shot defenseman (6-foot-7, 211 pounds) is tough to miss when he's patrolling his end of the ice. In 2017, he moved to Nizhny Novgorod to play for Torpedo and gradually ascended the program ranks.

"I was lucky to always have very good coaches around me," Silayev said. "First it was Alexander Danchishin, who was very important in my hockey career because I could talk to him about anything, and he had sharp advice.

"Right now, it's Igor Larionov ... he knows all aspects of the game."

In his first season in the Kontinental Hockey League under Larionov, who played 14 NHL seasons, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008 and is a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Detroit Red Wings, Silayev had 11 points (three goals, eight assists), 103 shots on goal, 74 blocked shots and led Torpedo with 98 hits in 63 regular-season games. He was a finalist for KHL rookie of the year.

Silayev hit

"When I was younger, I was always too active during games, jumping into a rush and helping forwards too much," Silayev said. "[Larionov] has helped me understand the importance of solid defensive play. I like it, too, since I'm learning new approaches.

"Mr. Larionov explained to me that hockey always checks you, every game and every shift. He also told me the importance of rest and what you eat and how you organize your free time. It'll help me become a consistent player for a long time."

Silayev, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of International skaters eligible for the 2024 NHL Upper Deck NHL Draft at Sphere in Las Vegas on June 28-29, had the most points by an under-18 player in KHL history. The defenseman passed current NHL forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who had 10 points (seven goals, three assists) for Novosibirsk in 2008-09.

"It's not often you find a 6-foot-7, 211-pound defenseman capable of moving like him with his smooth and active skating stride," NHL director of European scouting Jukka-Pekka Vuorinen said. "He seems to always be alert and able to quickly get pucks to his forwards in transition. He can carry the puck and has a great release. His personal skills are still a bit raw, but his ceiling is high. He's looked so composed in the KHL that he seems to be ready to play in the NHL almost immediately."

Perhaps most impressive, though, was how Silayev adapted to the physical style of the game as a teenager in the KHL while averaging 14:54 of ice time.

"I love the physical side," he said. "I realize that I have to get stronger, because details of the men's game are different than junior. In the KHL you can bang bodies and someone can hit back, so you have to be ready for it."

Silayev said he's a big fan of Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman because he always is in position and offers incredible puck skills for a big player (6-7, 246).

“Anton understands the game, and to me, if he ends up giving you offense, that’s a bonus,” TSN resident director of scouting, NHL analyst and former NHL general manager Craig Button said. “But at the end of it all, if he gives you that really strong pillar, that’s what you’re looking for. I don't see him as a top-pair defenseman, but certainly as a clear No. 3 who can anchor a second pair along the blue line.”

Silayev said, "Mr. Larionov said my game reminds him of (Red Wings Hall of Fame defenseman) Nicklas Lidstrom. My coach even sent me links to watch [Lidstrom], and it was very exciting. I understand now that by taking little pieces from every player and combining it for your own needs, it can only help make you a better player."

Silayev red jersey block

Silayev said the KHL experience this season inspired him to work even harder in attempt to live out his dream of playing in the NHL one day.

"I appreciate [Larionov's] patience when mistakes are made," he said. "He always explained in a polite way what was wrong and how it should be done. There was a moment during the season when I played a lot and was having a really tough time, and [Larionov] gave me a week off. When I returned, I had a good game. I learned what it means to play a professional season, with lots of travel."

The team that selects Silayev in the NHL Draft will do so with the understanding that his KHL contract with Torpedo runs through 2025-26, so patience will be needed.

"I assume I'll be able to come to North America after my KHL contract expires, but a final decision we will make with the team that drafts me, and my family," Silayev said. "My family always supported me on this journey, so I owe them a lot. We're excited about the draft."

The 18-year-old did not attend the NHL Scouting Combine last week but is expected to attend the draft.

"When I met my agent (Alexey Dementyev) four years ago, he told me I was a first-round pick," Silayev said. "I had no idea what he was talking about, but I trusted what he said. The answer is coming soon."

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