Among prospect defensemen in the Oilers system, Ziyat Paigin ranks high due to defensive ability, some offensive tools and real progress over the past several years. It also helps that he is an actual giant. There is no guarantee he will make the NHL, or that we will ever see him in North America—but he clearly has big league potential.
PREVIOUSLY NO. 5 ON THE WINTER LIST
- December 2006: L Jean-Francois Jacques (166 NHL games)
- December 2007: C Rob Schremp (114 NHL games)
- December 2008: D Alex Plante (10 NHL games)
- December 2009: D Theo Peckham (160 NHL games)
- December 2010: D Theo Peckham (160 NHL games)
- December 2011: D Martin Marincin (162 NHL games)
- December 2012: L Teemu Hartikainen (52 NHL games)
- December 2013: C Jujhar Khaira (15 NHL games)
- December 2014: W Iiro Pakarinen (80 NHL games)
- December 2015: D Griffin Reinhart (37 NHL games)
Over the last decade or so, by the time we get to No. 5 it looks like hopefuls and also-rans—which makes sense, the first-round picks who are here are later picks. I like Martin Marincin from this list and Khaira, Pakarinen plus Reinhart still have a chance to make it.
OILERS DRAFTING RUSSIANS IN BROAD DAYLIGHT
- L Igor Vyazmikin, 252nd overall in 1987 (4 NHL games)
- D Vladimir Zubkov, 208nd overall in 1988
- C Anatoli Semenov, 120th overall in 1989 (362 NHL games, he was a real player)
- C Sergei Yashin, 141st overall in 1989
- G Evgeny Belosheiken, 232nd overall in 1991
- L Alexander Kerch, 60th overall in 1993 (5 NHL games)
- F Oleg Maltsev, 241st overall in 1993
- D Ilya Byakin, 267th overall in 1993 (57 NHL games, talented)
- R Dimitrius Shulga, 162nd in 1994
- D Sergei Yerkovich, 68th overall in 1997
- G Alex Fomitchev, 231st overall in 1997
- L Oleg Smirnov, 144th overall in 1998
- R Maxim Spiridonov, 241st overall in 1998
- D Alexei Semenov, 36th overall in 1999 (211 NHL games)
- L Alexei Mikhnov, 17th overall in 2000 (2 NHL games, first-round pick)
- D Alexander Ljubimov, 83rd overall in 2000
- F Evgeny Muratov, 274th overall in 2000
- D Ivan Koltsov, 106th overall in 2002
- F Mikhail Youkov, 72nd overall in 2003
- D Roman Tesliuk, 44th overall in 2004
- L Slava Trukhno, 120th overall in 2005
- F Alex Bumagin, 170th overall in 2006
- R Nail Yakupov, 1st overall in 2012 (265 NHL games, No. 1 overall)
- L Daniil Zharkov, 91st overall in 2012
- C Bogdan Yakimov, 83rd overall in 2013 (1 NHL game)
- L Anton Slepyshev, 88th overall in 2013 (18 NHL games)
- D Ziyat Paigin, 209th overall in 2015
Paygin, 6'6", 210 lbs, scored 1-1-2, +3, in 33 KHL games last year, which is actually ok for a 20-year-old Ak Bars Kazan defenseman. #Oilers
— Patrick C (@ChunkletsHockey) June 27, 2015
WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY
- Alessandro Seren Rosso: Paigin is a very interesting prospect with great size (6’6”, 210 lbs.), good mobility, and an interesting overall package. Source
- The Black Book: His play at the tournament has confimed his upside as well as the need for further development. He is still a bit of a project, on some games he shows flashes of good puck moving ability for such a tall defenseman, in others he struggles with easy plays.He may still be able to improve on some things training with pro, like on the accuracy of his
powerful slap shot, but his game needs to evolve rather than a finishing touch.
- ISS: “Like this player. Stay at home d-men that keeps his game simple and boxes out well. PK work was strong all tournament, willing to block shots. Big bodied physical defender with a long reach and good skating ability. Knows his limitations and doesn’t try to do too much. Strong performance at WJC helped move him into our rankings for 2015 NHL draft”.
- Craig Button ranked him No. 86 in the 2015 draft.
- Summer 2015: No. 21
- Winter 2015: No. 15
- Summer 2016: No. 3
- Winter 2016: No. 5
- Swedish Poster: He sticks out right away with how tall and lanky. Looked real skinny though part of it might be Sochi’s gear they were wearing an all black gear and every player looked pretty slim. However despite his size he’s surprisingly agile, I had a similar reaction as I had when getting my first real viewing of Nurse where you marvel over how agile he is at that size, he’s not nearly as explosive as Nurse but a real smooth skater.
- More Swedish Poster: He showed off some serious hands as well, something I didn’t expect at all considering his junior numbers. Could ofc be Andy Sutton moments as well and not a regular thing but he pulled off the Mats Sundin style extralong dangle with his giant reach. He also has a solid shot. A couple of dodgy moments when trying too much with the first pass but generally moved the puck well.
- Final Swedish Poster: Defensively he was in good position and showed off a good stick. Crazy reach. Not very physical, still very much a teenage body, has that uncoordinated flimsiness you see in lanky teenage boys, but he seems unafraid at least.
- Paigin was traded during the early days of 2015-16 and flourished in Sochi. In 37 games during 2015-16, he scored nine goals and 27 points, while getting 85 shots and averaging 17:45 minutes per game. A major step forward. This was an insane season and absolutely put him on the map as an NHL prospect.
This season has been frustrating, as a knee injury has derailed his season beyond four games early in the year. He is apparently close to returning and Oilers fans will be monitoring his progress over the rest of the year.
- Pink Socks, early in season when the player was healthy—Watched all of the Ak-Bars game this morning minus the last 10 minutes or so, Paigin was wearing a full face shield which he does not normally wear so without understanding the announcers in the pregame talking about him, I’m assuming it was injury that kept him out the past two games. That being said, guy QB’s a powerplay like a champ. Both (Kazan) goals on the PP, both times Paigin was on the ice, he got one assist on a 5 on 3 (Note: later taken away, or not rewarded). Guys don’t want to block his shot. Probably a combination of how heavy the shot is, and also the fact that it is Yakupov-esque in its accuracy. He set up a teammate on a beauty of a steal at the O blue, keeping it in the zone and gave him a mini-break but couldn’t cash. Threw a few big hits and looked more than competent in D zone. Really active stick breaking up passes, defended reasonably well on one 2 on 1. He skates surprisingly strong. In the few games I have caught last year and this one from the new season, he looks bonafide to my eye.
- Rick Carriere: “Very impressed with his size and mobility. He shoots the puck hard and brings some offence from the back end. You’re always looking for that. You can teach the defensive stuff, but you’d like to have guys who can think the game offensively and make plays with the puck on their stick, not turn it over or give up possession easily. It sounds like he’s that type of player. He’s a good puck-possession guy and he brings some mobility and a good shot.” Source
- Simon Boisvert, Prospect Insider (on the Lowdown): I love the guy. I hope he gets out of his contract or his contract ends at some point (it is apparently up at the end of this season). Once he gets to Bakersfield, this is a guy who might only need one year in the AHL before he is ready to take on a third-pairing role in Edmonton. I love the guy. I am not saying he is going to win the Norris Trophy. This is a guy who could be a very good physical presence, perhaps second power-play unit, good shot,
I have Paigin this high for two reasons: He is a giant defenseman with a range of skills, and because there is clear evidence that he has developed over the past two or three seasons. Both are very positive tells for his future.
Paigin turns 22 in February (he is four days younger than Darnell Nurse, who was drafted two years earlier). Peter Chiarelli was the GM on Paigin’s draft day, so he would certainly know the player and be familiar with his skill set.
His NHLE for the 2015-16 season (82GP, 16-32-48) was so strong that even letting some of the air out of his tires gets us to a very good place. The comments from Boisvert above make sense to me—sign him next summer, send him to the AHL and we might see this player in the fall of 2018 in an NHL uniform.
He is 6.06 and can shoot the puck from the blue line effectively, he is mobile, can defend and has improved consistently over the last few seasons. That is a very good resume.
THE 2015 DRAFT
- Connor McDavid, No. 1 overall. Making our dreams come true. Graduated.
- D Caleb Jones, No. 117 overall. Impressive young player has improved greatly since the draft. Good wheels, impressive offense. Inside the Top 20.
- D Ethan Bear, No. 124 overall. He is progressing in all areas and has a nice range of skills. Bear’s progress since draft day has been impressive. Inside the Top 20.
- D John Marino, No. 154 overall. Mobile offensive defender posting some crooked numbers early in NCAA career. A candidate for the Winter Top 20.
- G Miroslav Svoboda, No. 208 overall. Stopping everything in a faraway Czech league. What does that mean? A candidate for the Winter Top 20.
- D Ziyat Paigin, No. 209 overall. A transfer to Sochi unlocked this player in 2015-16, and an untimely injury this season cannot dampen enthusiasm. No. 5 prospect, Winter 2016.