Flyers draft small, but creative Russian forward Ilya Pautov

Ilya Pautov has the skills to make creative plays, but he needs to work on his awareness to fully take advantage of his talents.
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - First Round
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - First Round / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

As you get to the later stages of the draft, it becomes harder to project where players will fall and the potential impacts they can have. The Flyers added to their forward depth by taking Russian winger Ilya Pautov with their sixth-round selection. It’s the first Russian player Philadelphia has taken in this draft.

Pautov has spent the last two seasons in the MHL with Krasnaya Armiya Moskva. The recently turned 18-year-old did take a step forward offensively, putting up 15 goals and 45 points in 46 games. That was after a season in which he only appeared in 12 games and posted four goals and six points. He was second on the team in points this season.

Pautov’s creativity shines in his puck handling. Pair that with his elusiveness on the ice and he can be a dangerous player in the offensive zone. 

The biggest concern for Pautov is his size and strength, something he will need to address to be able to handle the NHL level. However, he does possess high-end skills despite his small stature. And while he can make an impact offensively with said creativity and stick handling, his skating leaves plenty to be desired. Pautov is said to need improvement in his awareness and decision-making as well. 

When asked for his thoughts on Pautov, Gabriel Foley of Recruit Scouting did see the appeal in a team drafting the Russian forward, but showed concern in a specific area of his game.

"“Well I certainly see the appeal, to say the very least. Ilya Pautov is, simply put, shifty – with great head-fakes on the puck and good lateral movement off puck. He pursues play well and hangs onto possession. But I find his playmaking isn’t at the same level as his puck-skills are – which keeps him really doing it all.“"

There are certainly hesitations if Pautov can make an impact at the next level. But he’s not a bad player to take stock in as a sixth-round pick. If he can add strength and develop his offensive skills, there’s a chance he could be some type of asset down the line.