Following the first defenseman of the draft in Jamie Drysdale, we now have our first goalie on the board! Hailing from Omsk, Russia, Yaroslav Askarov stands at 6’3”, 176 lbs and across the platforms I’ve seen, is the only goaltender projected to go in the first round. He’s projected to be one of the best goaltending prospects since the likes of Andre Vasilevskiy and Carey Price, and has the track record to back up those comparisons. Let’s take a look:
BSH 2020 Community Draft Board, No. 9: Yaroslav Askarov
Team: SKA St. Petersburg, VHL and KHL
Statistics: 2.45 GAA and 0.920 SV% in 18 GP (VHL), 2.00 GAA and 0.920 SV% in 1 GP (KHL)
No. 1 (European Goaltenders) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 10 by Future Considerations
No. 1 (Goaltenders) by ISS Hockey
No. 11 by Wheeler/The Athletic
What’s there to like?
Askarov has nearly all the attributes that scouts look for in a goaltending prospect. He is incredibly aggressive when challenging shooters, and has elite mobility and athleticism. This allows him to make tough saves when he has to react quickly to scramble in net. Therefore, he’s very tough to beat cleanly and even when he faces more challenging chances, it’s likely he’ll be on the puck in the blink of an eye. His aggressiveness and willingness to challenge shooters in nearly any scenario is his biggest strength, and he reads angles very well.
It isn’t as if he has only had success against other players in juniors as well. Though he only played one KHL game in 2019-20 (in which he performed well), Askarov has, so far, started three KHL games in 2020-21 as their season has gotten underway. In those three games, Askarov’s save percentage is 0.974%. The goalie experts tell me that’s pretty good.
What’s not to like?
Askarov is technically sound, and isn’t often forced to make scrambling saves due to this, however, I wouldn’t quite put him in the same category as Carter Hart in this regard. Askarov has been described as “jumpy” and “jittery” in net, which surprised me for a goaltender described in the manner he is. Regardless, he is an excellent goaltending prospect, but he’ll need to work on commanding a more calm presence in net.
In addition, Askarov can be prone to letting in mid-range goals at times due to this. This was very notable at last season’s World Junior Championships, where Askarov did not play at his best, only compiling an 0.877 SV% in five games. That doesn’t bother me too much, however, as (and this does cliché) all goaltenders have bad stretches once and a while.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
Well...he really wouldn’t. The Flyers already have their goaltender of the future (and present) in Carter Hart, and Askarov is too good to project as an NHL backup. In the end, though not a direct comparison, you’d have a similar situation to when both Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky were competing for the starter role, except in this scenario, the existing starter is actually good (thank you Carter). Unless you could somehow convince Askarov to play backup, or you have a 1A and 1B scenario where you can split their salaries to be fairly cap compliant, having both Hart and Askarov isn’t a viable future from both a playing time and salary perspective.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
The Flyers would have to trade up to have a chance at drafting Askarov. I’ve seen him comped as high as 8, but as low as 14. Regardless, this is out of the Flyers range, and there are teams looking to draft an upper-tier goaltending prospect, so yes they’d have to trade up. However, if they are trading up, they aren’t going to do so for Askarov. Like I mentioned, the Flyers’ goaltending is one of the most sound areas of their organization at the moment at the NHL level, so I can assure you that they aren’t even thinking about drafting him. I would say it’s a shame, since Askarov has the potential to be an elite NHL goaltender, but we already have Carter Hart, so no second thought is spared.
2020 BSH Community Draft Board
- Alexis Lafreniere — LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)
- Quinton Byfield — C, Sudbury (OHL)
- Marco Rossi — C, Ottawa (OHL)
- Tim Stützle — LW/C, Manheim (DEL)
- Cole Perfetti — LW/C, Saginaw (OHL)
- Lucas Raymond — RW, Frölunda (SHL)
- Jamie Drysdale — D, Erie (OHL)
- Alexander Holtz — LW/RW, Djurgardens (SHL)
- Yaroslav Askarov — G, SKA (KHL) and Anton Lundell — C, HIFK (Liiga)