I’m sure Askarov would love to get another taste of the NHL before this season is up. The guy just resonates with so much confidence and personality that it would reignite the fanbase to see him called up and split some starts with Juuse Saros down the stretch.
Besides, what Predators fan doesn’t want more of this if the team is going to be playing meaningless hockey anyway?
Now, to make this happen, obviously Kevin Lankinen would have to be dealt before the trade deadline. This should be on the table for Poile to consider.
Lankinen has done a lot to raise his personal stock in his backup role to Saros. He’s 21st among NHL goaltenders in Goals Saved Above Expected with only 12 games played.
This was always going to be a one-year bridge to Askarov. Lankinen has done himself a lot of favors by playing well when called upon and now deserves a starter’s role somewhere else. Find a team that wants him, whether that be a playoff contending team or a team on the rise that needs a goaltender for their future.
This would make space for Askarov to split starts with Saros, and if things get really ugly, I say you give more starts to Askarov over Saros over the last couple weeks of the regular season. That gives you an early head start with your 2023-24 goalie tandem.
I’ll include Tommy Novak in this because he just got a new contract and could definitely be elevated in the lineup after the trade deadline.
Looking back at the Milwaukee Admirals, Kiefer Sherwood and John Leonard could end up getting some NHL opportunities depending on just how much Poile actually sells. Both players have considerable NHL experience and possibly the organization would want to see more playing time from them.
I don’t expect the Nashville Predators to be realistically in the playoff hunt for much longer, so it’s time to think about the long-term future and gives some newcomers and young players who will be around for a while a chance to show what they got.