The Edmonton Oilers have been shopping Russia more often since the Nail Yakupov draft, with some success. Names like Anton Slepyshev and Bogdan Yakimov have played in the NHL since being drafted in 2013 and young Ziyat Paigin may be the third Russian to play for the Oilers in the years following Yak City Mania. This prospect is a tall Russian, a strong defender and a player who fits with the Chiarelli plan.
RE 17-18: 2GP, 0-0-0
- What role will Paigin apply for upon NHL arrival? Initially, third pairing LHD, probably penalty kill and maybe power play (he has a tremendous shot). He may move up the depth chart from there. He’s not going to replace Andrej Sekera or Oscar Klefbom but he brings things the Oilers value. He may end up being the LH Eric Gryba, with more offense.
- Will the Oilers slow play Paigin? No, if he performs well I think he’ll compete for an NHL job. He is 22, the time is now.
- Does that include this fall? Making the team is extremely unlikely, but once he’s performing in Bakersfield I suspect he’s going to be in the mix if the performance warrants recall. In this subtle way, I think his situation is different than that of Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear.
- Does he have a real chance to eventually make the NHL as a regular? Yes, but we need to remember he isn’t a first-round pick and we don’t really know his ceiling. Paigin has had a statistically bizarre career in Russia, we need to find out about him.
- What makes him attractive for this roster? Size, pro experience, strength and ability to battle opponents. If we can agree that this organization values defensive defenders and also values strong men with size, then Paigin is in the organizational wheelhouse for the position.
- What is a reasonable timeline for full time NHL duty? I see Paigin as slightly ahead of Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear because of age (he is two years older than those two, one year younger than Matt Benning) and pro experience. He will be in tough to get anything more than a couple of weeks in the NHL this season but I think he’s on the radar. I can see him pushing very hard for a job next fall.
- What will his role be in Bakersfield? Top 4D minutes at evens and plenty of action on both special teams. He should be able to succeed at the AHL level in all areas.
- What one thing will get him to the NHL? The ability to gather up the puck, and pass it out, while also being capable defensively. He is big, strong, has a great wingspan and can pass the puck. All of those things have value to Edmonton. His shot is famous but it takes time to establish that kind of role at the NHL level.
- What will keep him from getting an NHL look? Mobility is always the concern for big defensemen. You always hear phrases like skates well for a big man, but how fast for how big? And the initial eye test isn’t valuable either. Need to see him for a season in Bakersfield, check the results.
- How many players can he reasonably be expected to pass in one winter? I will guess that Ryan Stanton and Keegan Lowe enter camp as the LHD who will play top 4D. Paigin should have a bit of an early advantage over Caleb Jones for the third pairing. Both newcomers should push beyond the veterans, I’ll pick Paigin to do it first but that’s a guess. It will be fun to track the two prospects, as one has size and the other speed. The game has been emphasizing speed more and more but the Edmonton Oilers like this player a lot.
- The Oilers defense roster looks set through 2020, how does anyone make the top 7D? This has come up a few times and there’s always room. This fall, the Oilers top 5D opening night (sans injuries) will probably include Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Kris Russell, Matt Benning, Darnell Nurse. After that, all of the contracts are basically the same ($1M or less) and basically interchangeable. That means there are two open spots, those spots probably going to two of Eric Gryba, Yohann Auvitu or Ryan Stanton. However, if another player impresses, and that might include Paigin, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, but also Keegan Lowe, Dillon Simpson and anyone else who may come along via invite or trade, then we might see Auvitu and or Gryba in the minors. Unless the Oilers bring in Cody Franson during camp, there are two wide open spots for opening night when we enter camp.
- Of the LHD on the roster who most closely resembles Paigin? I don’t have an answer. He has the size of Nurse plus a little, a great wingspan (Nurse has that too) but a monster shot from the point. He does not transport the puck like Nurse, but is an outstanding passer and that includes fine passes in the offensive zone and real power-play acumen. So, among Oilers defensemen, he is somewhat unique.