Joel Dorcas | May 30th, 2020
Goaltender lovers rejoice, we’re finally doing a prospect profile on a netminder. The man in question is Russian phenom, Jaroslav Askarov. Not since fellow goalie, countryman, Andre Vasilevsky has there been so much fanfare for the last line of defense. So what’s the buzz all about for the one-and-only player wearing pillows expected to go in the first round? Join me as we breakdown Jaroslav Askarov!
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Team: VHL SKA St. Petersburg
2020 Draft Prospect Ranking (Central Scouting): 1/European Goalies
We’ve already mentioned Tampa Bay Lightning’s (arguably the best at his position), Andrei Vasilevsky, but the comparisons don’t stop there. Think back to past drafts when goalies went early, Carey Price, fifth overall, 2005 and Marc-Andre Fleury, first overall, 2003. Askarov is thought to be potentially as impactful. Just ask TSN’s Craig Button. He views Askarov in the same light as when Price was a prospect 15 years ago.
It’s quite remarkable that Askarov is so highly touted. He is just 17 years old, already playing at a high level, playing a position that typically takes longer to develop. It’s no wonder goalies aren’t selected early in drafts, they are just too much of an unknown in the early stages of their careers. The range for where he will get drafted is fairly wide. Anywhere from 5th to 15th(at the very latest) is in play.
Playing Style and Accomplishments
Like most young prospects, Askarov will need to put on weight over the next few years. His stature, however, is perfect for the position, 6’3″. He employs a pure “butterfly” style rather than the more popular “hybrid” style-(standup/butterfly). Somewhat unique is that he catches with his right hand which gives opposing shooters a different and sometimes unadvantageous look (There are only four right-handed catching goalies currently in the NHL).
Some of Askarov’s greatest traits are his incredible lateral movements, his composed, calm, and focused demeanor, and his overall athleticism. The only knock here is he can sometimes be beaten with shots aimed at the top corners.
Askarov has spent lots of time in the VHL over the last few seasons, playing against competition of all ages. The VHL is considered a notch just under the KHL. Look for him to join the upper level soon. So far so good in terms of production, he has seen his save percentage hover around the .915-.920 mark all along. His best work has occurred in international play. He was selected as the best goalie in the 2018-’19 U-18 World Junior Championship. He also secured two gold medals for Russia as a starter. One in the U-17 Championship in 2019 and the other at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2020.
Which Team is the Best Fit
There are plenty of teams in need of a number one goalie. In reality though, because of the position, it will be several years until Askarov becomes a full-blown number one. The list is almost endless, teams picking early can make an argument for taking a goalie with the first pick as the payoff down the road could alter their franchise. Even the Senators, who have three first-rounders, are in play. If he slips down the pecking order the likes of the Blackhawks, Wild, and yes, the Carey Price led Canadiens would be foolish to not consider.
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Main Image Credit:Embed from Getty Images