Columbus Blue Jackets draft candidate at fourth overall, Anton Silayev is hard to miss

Though he's raw and needs refinement, towering defenseman Anton Silayev has the kind of upside that teams salivate over. He will be a contender for the Blue Jackets with their 4th overall pick.
Torpedo Hockey Club player, Anton Silayev (21) seen in...
Torpedo Hockey Club player, Anton Silayev (21) seen in... / SOPA Images/GettyImages
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When looking at young prospects, sometimes you have to look well beyond their offensive numbers to get the full story. In the case of Anton Silayev, he blows the eye test away.

I've been watching and writing about hockey prospects for close to 20 years, and in that time I can only remember two comparables for Silayev: Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman, and Vancouver's Tyler Myers.

Sure, there have been other big guys to come along. But, not many of them are very good skaters, which usually hampers their overall game. Silayev is more then just a good skater. In fact, he's at a level we don't see very often at all. Don't just take my word for it:

For a player this size, Silayev is on a whole new level. He turns and pivots better than almost any other player I've ever seen. He floats around the ice in a way you wouldn't expect, quickly closing gaps and taking away time and space from the opposition.

In that regard, he's almost like a cheat code on defense. A guy who can reach 15' in any direction at any time, and skate like he does; makes it really hard for the opposing team to generate much down low.

Now, he's far from a perfect prospect. His offense is pretty limited, which, I believe, is going to prevent him from becoming that "Victor Hedman" type of defenseman. And, I wonder about his overall hockey IQ; though that could just be stemming from him being a 17 year old in one of the best leagues in the world.

Even with the occasional glaring mistake, Silayev is able to quickly make up for them with his skating and athleticism. He uses his stick well and understands the importance of body positioning. In all, I don't think he'll be an elite #1 defenseman - but, more likely, a safe bet to play somewhere in the top-4, eating up heavy defensive zone minutes.

Of course, that could all change if his offensive game swings around. Playing under the great Igor Larionov could definitely help him there. Silayev will continue to develop in Russia for at least two more seasons. By the time he comes over, he could be a polished NHL ready defender.

This isn't the big upside pick that we could see with someone like Ivan Demidov, Berkly Catton or Zayne Parekh. This would be a safe, conservative type of pick that could help the Jackets in a much different way. Anton Silayev is a really rare type of player, and I defintely don't think I would be disappointed to see him picked fourth overall.