Position – Goalie
Team – Neva St. Petersburg – Russia U18
Age – 18
Height – 6’3”
Weight – 176 lbs
Nation – Russia
Catches – Right
Folklore suggests Prancer, or скакун in Russian, is known for his cunningness and intelligence. Well, Yaroslav Askarov is скакун in-between the pipes. Yes, it’s true, there hasn’t been a goalie drafted in the top-10 since Carey Price in 2005, but as Bob Dylan said, “these times they are a changing…” With the inevitable departure of Jimmy Howard, the Wings need a goalie replacement and, while Bernier did manage to stand on his head this year, he has never proven to be a true number one. It would be a bold move for Yzerman to pass on a skilled forward and draft a goalie, but Askarov could be worth the risk. Standing at 6’3″ and 176 lbs, at only 17 years-of-age, Askarov’s big-body is the epitome of a modern-day NHL goalie. The jump from Russia to the NHL has been tumultuous for some, but Askarov has proved his ability to play amongst the world’s most elite players, including attaining top-three finishes in all six international events.
TSN’s Craig Button believes in Askarov’s future as an NHL goalie –
I see Yaroslav Askarov as a goalie who possesses every single attribute to be a star & pillar in the net for whatever NHL team selects him. He already owns a Decorated Trophy Trophy case with two golds, three silvers and a bronze in International competitions.
Going into the #WorldJuniors, let’s stop and appreciate Yaroslav Askarov’s best saves from his 2019-20 VHL season so far. And oh boi are these tremendous.
— TPEHockey (@TPEHockey) December 23, 2019
The rebuild is in full-force and securing a young goalie for the long-term could help expedite the process. Yzerman and the Detroit brass will have a tough decision to make if Askarov is available at number 4. The young Russian has drawn comparisons to Carey Price and Wings fans have seen the impact Price has had firsthand. Of course, there are concerns regarding Askarov -most notably, he was relegated to backup after posting an 87.7 save percentage in the first five games of the most recent U-20 World Championships Tournament. This is certainly a stain on Askarov’s resume, but he was the youngest goalie in that tournament and frankly, there isn’t a goalie in the world that hasn’t been pulled. Askarov’s pros far outweigh his cons and, while the Wings have never had a Russian guarding their crease, if the events of this past year have proved anything, it’s that – in 2020 – anything can happen.