If you could draw up a perfect draft sceanario for the Blackhawks come next June, odds are Kyle Davidson is going to target an upgrade at the blueline. In particular a young player that can play in all situations, be physical, and most importantly be able to skate at a top pairing level.
The 2024 draft is shaping up to have somewhere between 10-14 high level 1st round grades for defenseman. When looking at the top 10 even, there could be as many half of them be blue liners. Artyom Levshunov, Sam Dickinson, Anton Silayev, Zayne Parekh, and Aron Kiviharju all have that type of talent from my perspective.
Let's focus in on Anton Silayev though as the 6'7 LHD has had my attention of late. Here is a full KHL shift by shift for Silayev (#21 in white for Torpedo). It's hard not to notice him due to his tremendous size, yes he is just 17 years old.
First things first, he makes lots of mistakes in this game from 2 months ago. Stop though and look at the tool kit on display. We are talking about a 6'7 left hand defender that can clearly play both the left or the right hand side. His #1 trait so far is his skating, not his physical play or his hard and heavy point shot..... no, Anton Silayev is a smooth skating defender that just so happens to be 6'7.
Secondly, he presents calmness with the puck in difficult areas of the ice. He constantly waits for his forwards to take their angles before making the pass even if pressured. In the future, with added weight, he will be able to shield the puck better and then make the pass instead of skating into passing lanes.
Lastly, versatility at this young age in a league as competitive as the KHL is unheard of. He plays the power play, has the green light to take shots, and is asked to retreive alot of pucks in a multitude of scenarios / tough areas. Currently he is using his reach (very reminiscent of Alex Vlasic) to win or strip pucks from an opponent where maybe a "stand up" or a "body check" would fare better. That should come with the maturation of his frame though.
While it may be more tempting for a team to draft a player that is already in North American (Levshunov is playing for Michigan State in the NCAA) make no mistake about it: Anton Silayev has the highest potential of any defender I've seen in recent drafts. If he develops a physical part to his game (remember he is 17 playing against mature athletes and frames) and continues to show his skating prowess there is no denying this is a special player.
I believe that the Blackhawks outside of Kevin Korchinski and Alex Vlasic are lacking true top 4 talent. Are players such as Isaak Phillips, Wyatt Kaiser, Ethan Del Mastro, Nolan Allen, Sam Rinzel, or even Taige Harding / Michael Krutil ever going to be destined for top 4 minutes? They likely are, but that doesn't mean they should be is more the point. I believe the Blackhawks are a big time defender away from really balancing out the future of the D-core. I believe that Anton Silayev could be the legit true star player in the next class (in terms of defenders).
If drafting in the top 5 (likely) and Silayev is there and Celebrini is taken, then make no mistake about it I expect Davidson to announce Anton Silayev as a future Chicago Blackhawk. Could you imagine Kevin Korchinksi and 6'7 Anton Silayev playing together (in the video you can see Silayev playing on the right side) and then the next pairing hops on the ice and it's another guy at 6'6-6'7 that can skate and has reach? Yes, that is a scenario I can imagine.