Could the Montreal Canadiens steal Anton Silayev at No. 5?

There's a path to the Canadiens landing the massive Russian defenseman at No. 5.
Torpedo Hockey Club player, Anton Silayev (21) seen in...
Torpedo Hockey Club player, Anton Silayev (21) seen in... / SOPA Images/GettyImages

It'd be a cruel twist of irony for Habs fans, wouldn't it? The Canadiens skipped over Matvei Michkov to draft David Reinbacher last season, in a move likely due to the uncertainty of Michkov coming to North America. Then, with fans wanting them to take a scoring forward again, they skip those options to take a different defenseman with the same concerns as Michkov. The possibility isn't great, as Anton Silayev will likely go in the top four, but it isn't far-fetched.

Consider that Ivan Demidov's stock rose at the Gold Star Draft Combine last week. The Blackhawks looked dialed in on Artuym Levshunov at second overall, but the chance to pair Demidov and Bedard may give them a reason to second-guess it before Friday night.

Then, we get to the third overall pick, where the Ducks and Silayev felt like the draft's only sure thing after Macklin Celebrini. The consensus was a top three of Macklin Celebrini, Artyum Levshunov, and Anton Silayev. However, with Levshunov still on the board, the Ducks may take the security of Levshunov already playing in North America and take him with that pick.

The last step to Silayev falling to the Canadiens is the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that seems to like Cayden Lindstrom. The Blue Jackets would likely stay dialed in on Lindstrom here, leaving Silayev to the Habs at No.5. The only issue is that Don Waddell already floated the idea of teams wanting to trade up. If the top three changes and a team lower down in the draft are high on Silayev, will they execute a trade to steal Silayev from the Canadiens?

Who is Anton Silayev?

Anton Silayev is a massive Russian defender who doesn't have many offensive skills but will be a shutdown defender if he comes to North America. Silayev's contract expires in the KHL in 2026, but there are no guarantees he will come over.

The Canadiens are loaded on defense, but that doesn't scare Kent Hughes away from possibly targeting a defenseman with the No. 5 pick. A defenseman may be out the door to land some offensive help, and the Canadiens don't have a prospect that plays Silayev's role.

The Canadiens have some two-way defensemen in Kaiden Guhle, David Reinbacher, Justin Barron, and the others, while they have offensive threats in Logan Mailloux and Lane Hutson. They don't have a defenseman they can play 20+ minutes a night and shut down the other team's best players.

A player like Silayev is someone you still need in this day and age, as we broke down in the article showing what made the Panthers successful in their Stanley Cup Final run. I've mentioned countless times that the Habs shouldn't draft a defenseman in this draft, but they must pull the trigger if Silayev somehow falls.

The Russian factor is becoming less and less prominent, especially after the news that Matvei Michkov will debut as early as next season. Silayev, a better skating version of Nikita Zadorov, could be the last missing piece on the Canadiens' blueline starting in 2026.