Nashville Predators have no reason to rush into a Yaroslav Askarov trade

The dust is settling on what the Predators did on Day 1 of free agency, but questions remain about their goalie battle behind Juuse Saros.
Nashville Predators v Montreal Canadiens
Nashville Predators v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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Nashville Predators General Manager Barry Trotz has already hinted that there would be a training camp battle between newly-acquired backup goalie Scott Wedgewood and arguably the best goalie prospect in the world, Yaroslav Askarov.

That will certainly make for some intriguing storylines for Predators training camp, but are we to really believe that Askarov has a chance over leap frogging a $3 million veteran who just got signed in free agency? As you can imagine, I remain very skeptical about that.

So unless Askarov just blows the roof off of Predators training camp and preseason and Wedgewood looks equally awful on the other end of the spectrum, then Askarov is heading back to the Milwaukee Admirals for his third season in the AHL. And that's not necessarily a bad place for him until the Predators can find a trade partner.

Be patient on the Askarov trade front

The goalie trade market has cooled off. Most of the goalie starved teams out there have made their moves either in free agency or through a trade. That lowers the value, at least for now, when it comes to Askarov. This is why it's in the best interest to wait this out if you're Trotz.

I also see no reason to rush into a trade even if an offer comes along before the regular season begins. Askarov should have another strong year in the AHL, and even though many think he's ready for fulltime backup duty on the NHL level, it's also important to remember the guy just turned 22 and it's usually better to be cautious when developing goalie prospects.

In two seasons of 40-plus games for the Admirals, Askarov has put up a respectable .911 save percentage and improved his GAA from 2.69 his rookie year to 2.39 this past year. He did suffer the dreaded "sophomore" slump during his second year as a pro in North America.

There's a solid chance that Askarov cooks again in his third season with the Admirals, which will only continue to build his trade value. The Predators can hold onto him up until the 2025 trade deadline when teams once again will emerge as being desperate for a goalie upgrade.

Askarov is a solid insurance policy for Preds until 2025 gets here

Keeping Askarov also gives you some insurance in case things aren't going according to plan with Wedgewood. We expect him to be a competent and trustworthy backup to Saros, but we don't know that for sure. If Wedgewood becomes a liability in his relief starts for Saros, then having the option to call up Askarov will be a nice luxury to have.

The worst case scenario would be Askarov getting blasted in a handful of backup starts to Saros, which would raise question about his NHL-readiness and damage his trade value. So you have to be careful in that regard, and almost lean more towards protecting Askarov in the AHL where you know he can dominate for another year.

Rumor has it that Trotz has a very high asking price for Askarov that probably includes either a proven and highly talented prospect of equal value to Askarov, or even an NHL starter. There were rumblings that something would happen during the NHL draft, but nothing materialized.

The best fit for Askarov might be a young, rebuilding team that isn't facing a ton of pressure in the immediate future but is looking for the franchise goalie for the next decade. Perhaps a team like the Columbus Blue Jackets?

This trade was proposed by Jason Newland of The Hockey Writers recently, and his trade proposal was Askarov to the Blue Jackets for winger Kent Johnson and goalie Daniil Tarasov.

Johnson already has appeared in two NHL seasons at age 21 and a former 5th-overall pick from 2021. That would certainly catch the interest of Trotz if this type of trade came across his desk.

As for Tarasov, he has bounced between the NHL and AHL since 2021-22 and just appeared in 24 games for the Blue Jackets this past season while posting a commendable .908 save percentage.

I have to say, if a trade like this were proposed to Trotz, it would be hard to say no and you'd come out of this feeling really good. It should take a trade like this to unload Askarov before the regular season starts, but again, there is no reason to be frantic about this. Wait for the right offer, it will come eventually.

Trotz is in a strong position here and needs to use this to his advantage before jumping the gun on trade of Askarov. The 2025 trade deadline might be the jumping off point, however, because when the 2025 offseason hits Askarov will be due for his first standard NHL contract.

One thing we finally know for sure is that it's Saros' crease for the long-term future in Nashville, and that leaves no pathway forward for Askarov to be the No.1 starter here like it previously thought it could be eventually after he was drafted in 2020.

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