It may be the offseason for the Nashville Predators, but current players who are big parts of the team’s future are currently playing in other venues.
There may not be a bigger prospect for the Nashville Predators to keep an eye on for the next couple years than Yaroslav Askarov.
Askarov was, to the surprise of some, taken in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft back in October at the 11th-overall pick. He’s widely-regarded as one of the top goaltender prospects in the world.
With no clear answer on when the next NHL season will start, current prospects are getting work overseas in other leagues. Askarov will be in the KHL in Russia for the next two seasons, and he’s really performing well at just age 18.
Askarov wins some hardware for Russia
Askarov’s most recent action has come in the Karjala Cup, which is a four-team tournament held in Finland. Team Russia won this year’s Karjala Cup on the back of a shutout effort from Askarov in the final game over the Czech Republic.
Check out the highlights here courtesy of Scoring Opportunity on YouTube:
, Askarov is confirming that the Predators made the right selection by taking him at the 11th-overall pick despite having what many thought was already their franchise goaltender in
Obviously there’s a lot more game film to come from Askarov before making any sweeping proclamations. But the early results are very promising.
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Russia got a win over Finland the game before their win over the Czech Republic, but Askarov faced a minimal number of shots and surrendered two goals.
Askarov has been playing in the KHL this season while the NHL is in the midst of an offseason that has no clear timeline. He’s appeared in just four games so far, but has an astounding 96 save percentage, a 1.10 GAA and one shutout for SKA Saint Petersburg.
SKA Saint Petersburg is currently in second place in the West of the KHL through 22 games. It will be very interesting to follow Askarov’s season with SKA and if he can keep up this incredible pace.
What will happen with Saros next season?
By the time Askarov is on the radar of making the jump to the NHL, and possibly to the Predators, we’ll know a lot more about Saros’ future in Nashville. His future may be already done by that time if he performs badly this season.
There will also be more clarity on Connor Ingram’s continued development, and Pekka Rinne will almost certainly be retired. At that point, the Predators will be happy with what they have in Saros, or they’ll be ready to call up Askarov judging by how he’s looked in the KHL and other playing opportunities.
We’ve already speculated on what could happen next season for Saros as the primary starting goaltender for the Predators, and what the implications are.
There’s always that possibility that the Predators use Askarov as trade bait if they’re satisfied with Saros. That’s jumping way out into the future and something no one can predict until seeing what Saros does this upcoming season.
What’s really amazing about what Askarov is accomplishing is how young he is. He’s doing all of this at 18-years-old and under a lot of pressure. His size and the way he covers the net reminds me so much of how Rinne has built his storied career.
It might be somewhat of a rough patch next season for the Predators as they get younger. With that said, the future does look bright and the centerpiece of that optimism is Askarov.