NY Islanders Inking Maxim Tsyplakov Was Likely a Collaborative Effort Led By Jim Paliafito

Spartak Hockey Club player, Maxim Tsyplakov (No.9) seen in...
Spartak Hockey Club player, Maxim Tsyplakov (No.9) seen in... / SOPA Images/GettyImages
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When it was announced that the NY Islanders had signed Maxim Tsyplakov, beating out about a dozen other NHL teams, there were very few rumblings that Long Island could be the destination for the 25-year-old who spent last season with Spartak Moskva of the KHL.

With little news about where Tsyplakov planned to sign, that should have been enough to raise some antennas that Lou Lamoriello was hard at work.

"Why didn't I just figure this out two days ago," Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet said on his 32 Thoughts Podcast. "Of course there's a reason no one's saying anything - because he's going to the Islanders and Lou Lamoriello still terrifies people."

While Lamoriello is the brains behind the Islanders roster, there's no doubt that a lot of credit for this signing goes to Jim Paliafito. Paliafito, who joined the Islanders staff in July of 2022, is listed on the team's Business Directory as the Director of European Pro Free Agent and College Free Agent Scouting.

Paliafito began his career in sports in the 80s as an NFL agent, with high-end clients like Lawrence Taylor and Tony Dorsett.

A former GM with the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL, Paliafito was hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2015 under Lamoriello as the Director of Player Evaluation. While in Toronto, Paliafito was the brains behind the Leafs signings of Alexander Barabonov, Nikita Zaitsev, and Ilya Mikheyev.

Known for his tenacity in convincing European free agents to leave their homes and come to North America, NHL Agent and CEO of Gold Star Hockey, Dan Millstein often refers to Paliafito as "The Closer."

Paliafito and Lamoriello have proven time and time again that they're willing to go to any length to make sure a player and his family are comfortable with their decision to pack up their lives and head to an unfamiliar continent.

In a 2020 article by James Siegel of The Athletic, Siegel references the lengths Paliafito was willing to go to ensure an unnamed player's wife was comfortable moving to Toronto. Paliafito escorted the player's wife from Europe so she could get a feel for life in Toronto, then flew back with her to Europe before returning to Canada.

If there's one thing Lamoriello has been called throughout his decades-long career in the NHL it's loyal. This along with Paliafito's willingness to go above and beyond to secure a signing makes a deadly duo.

“I represent a lot of Russian players," Millstein told the Toronto Sun in 2017. "Here’s what I tell the GMs I deal with: If you want my player, you have to jump on a plane, you have to make your pitch in person. Because that’s what Lou Lamoriello does.”

It's not known at this point what lengths Paliafito and Lamoriello went to secure Tsyplakov's signature, but it was certainly a team effort, with current and former Islanders likely in his ear telling him all the great things about Long Island.

Millstein, who represents Tsyplakov, also has Ilya Sorokin and Alexander Romanov on his client list, with the two likely assuring their fellow countryman that the Islanders and Long Island were the right fit for him.

While Sorokin and Romanov are future teammates of Tsyplakov, former teammate, Shane Prince has been in the ear of the 6'3" winger while playing together for Spartak Moskva.

“I don’t think he’s ever been to New York,” Prince told Arthur Staple of The Athletic. “He’s asking me a lot about what things cost, like an apartment, how to get around, stuff like that. He’s from Moscow so I think he’ll be fine. He’s a great, great kid, he’s going to put his head down and work hard every day. Islander fans are really going to like him.”

With Tsyplakov now signed, the ball will be in his court to make the roster out of training camp and transition as a power forward into the NHL.