Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Yaroslav Askarov.
Yaroslav Askarov has been outstanding at the international level for Russia. At the 2019 Under-18 World Championships he had a .916 save percentage, won a silver medal and was on the tournament all-star team. He was named top goalie in the tournament. In four games at the 2018 World Junior A Championships he put up a .954 save percentage. He also led Russia to gold at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. Askarov was once again named the top goalie in the tournament as he put up a .948 save percentage. Askarov also played at the Hlinka-Gretzky, helping Russia to bronze in 2018 with a .913 save percentage and a gold medal in 2019 with an incredible .960 save percentage.
This season, Askarov played at the World Juniors, appearing in five games with an .877 save percentage and helping Russia to a silver medal.
Askarov has already played a KHL game, putting up a 2.00 goals-against-average and .920 save percentage. In 18 VHL games, his save percentage is .920. Askarov is the clear top goalie in the 2020 NHL Draft. He is also one of the best goaltending prospects in several years.
Yaroslav Askarov Scouting Report
Goalie — shoots Right — catches Right
Born June 16th, 2002 — Omsk, Russia
Height 6’2″ — Weight 176 lbs [188 cm/80 kg]
Skating and Talent Analysis
Askarov is incredibly advanced for a young goaltender. He uses his size effectively, coming out to cut down angles and gives shooters very little net to look at. His strong legs take away the bottom of the net. They also make him an effective skater. He is able to take away those angles but still gets a good backward push, which makes him hard to deke. Those strong legs also give him a strong push and good side-to-side movement. He tracks the puck well on cross-ice passes and can get over to still make the save.
Askarov’s rebound control is very good for a young goalie, far ahead of other prospects his age. He is extremely efficient in his movements and is almost always square to the puck. This helps him to make a second save when he does give up a rebound. Askarov is also an athletic freak, with the ability to make a jaw-dropping save on those rare times when he does get caught out of position.
He is also good at handling the puck and making a pass to set up the breakout. He often acts like a third defenceman for his team, quickly moving the puck to his defenceman and helping the transition game. If the opposing team gets caught on a line change, he can make a long pass to create an odd-man rush for the forwards.
Askarov remains calm and cool in the net and is always ready to make the next stop. He has often played up an age level or two, showing his maturity despite his age. Askarov has the ability to shake off bad goals and does not let them snowball by being prepared for the next scoring chance. He also battles well through traffic and activity around his net. Askarov understands the game. He will keep the play moving when necessary or look to cover up the puck if his defenders need a breather. Askarov has been a leader for his team, a player that the defenders can look to stand tall in times that they need it the most.
Projection and Comparison
Goalies take longer to develop than any other position, and this is the danger in taking Askarov with a very high draft pick. He is likely at least two to three years away from making an impact in the NHL, and it might be even longer before he is a full-time starter. That said, he has the potential to be a franchise defining goaltender. His game is reminiscent of Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals, though this is not a talent comparison but just one based on style.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Yaroslav Askarov that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Yaroslav Askarov Main Photo:
OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC – JANUARY 4, 2020: Russia’s goalie Yaroslav Askarov ahead of the 2020 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship semifinal match against Sweden at Ostravar Arena. Peter Kovalev/TASS (Photo by Peter KovalevTASS via Getty Images)