Person of Interest: The 411 on Anton Slepyshev


Anton Slepyshev, seen here flying through the air in his Ufa Salavat Yulayev jersey, was drafted 88th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2013. (Peter Schneider/Keystone/AP)

The Edmonton Oilers signed Russian winger Anton Slepyshev to a three-year, two-way contract Wednesday locking up a player with serious offensive upside.

No one will put him in the same category as an Alex Ovechkin or Ilya Kovalchuk, but Slepyshev, who had a breakout season with Ufa Salavat Yulayev in the KHL, fits a similar mould. He’s an offensive-minded right-handed winger who prefers playing on the left side and loves scoring goals.

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It’s unclear at this point in time if the Oilers plan on having Slepyshev on their roster in October, or whether they’ll choose for him develop in the American Hockey League like fellow Russian draftee Bogdan Yakimov (picked five spots ahead of Slepyshev in 2013) did last season.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about Slepyshev.

Age: 21
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 187 pounds
Position: Left Wing
Shoots: Right
Drafted: 88th overall by Oilers in 2013
Contract status: Three-year, entry-level deal. Set to be RFA in 2018

He has a nose for the net…

The KHL is a notoriously difficult-to-score-in league, but Slepyshev showed this past season he can bury the puck. He registered 15 goals this past season, many of which came as a result of his accurate, quick-release shot.

He provides leadership and is no stranger to international competition…

Slepyshev has experience representing his country. In 2013 he won a bronze at the world juniors where he was teammates with Oilers star Nail Yakupov, plus the likes of Nikita Kucherov, Valeri Nichushkin, Mikhail Grigorenko and Andrei Vasilevskiy. The next year he was named captain of the Russian squad that beat Canada (led by Anthony Mantha, Jonathan Drouin, Mathew Dumba, Aaron Ekblad and a 16-year-old Connor McDavid) in the bronze medal game for a second straight year.

He’s one of the few KHLers in the Oilers system…

The Oilers don’t necessarily shy away from drafting Russians, but players like 2012 draftees Nail Yakupov and Daniil Zharkov played junior in the Ontario Hockey League rather than in their home country. In fact, Slepyshev is one of only two players the Oilers have drafted out of the KHL since 2006 – Bogdan Yakimov is the other.

He wanted to make the move to North America…

If Slepyshev didn’t feel like he was ready to make a serious run at the NHL he could have simply delayed his decision for another year. Two days before he signed with the Oilers, hockey writer Igor Eronko reported that he had an offer on the table from his KHL team.

He shone at the Spengler Cup…

In December, Slepyshev had a solid showing as his KHL team fell short in the final against Switzerland’s Geneve-Servette HC. He had five points in five games and was named a tournament all-star — so was Linus Omark, a name Oilers fans are familiar with.

He’s a first-overall pick…

Although he fell to 88th in the 2013 NHL Draft, he was the top selection in the 2011 KHL Draft. Other notable players taken in that draft (even though most have never and will never play in the KHL) include: Gabriel Landeskog, Alex Galchenyuk, Sean Couturier, Jonathan Huberdeau, Teuvo Teravainen, Zemgus Girgensons, Jonas Brodin and Filip Forsberg.

He can make something out of nothing…

Even though he doesn’t score on this play, you can see he has playmaking ability not every player possesses.

He’s had a few notable teammates in Russia…

While Slepyshev hasn’t played in the most recognizable markets, during his time in Russia he has played alongside a handful of players NHL fans will be familiar with including: Fellow Oilers draft pick Teemu Hartikainen, Calgary Flames 2006 first rounder Leland Irving plus NHL veterans Nikita Filatov, Oleg Saprykin, Chris Simon, Brent Sopel, Sergei Brylin and Randy Robitaille.

He’s got some slick moves…

What’s that? You like Papa Roach montages? Slow-mo fist pumps? Well then, you’re going to love this highlight reel of Slepyshev in action.

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