One of the best goaltending prospects in years, Askarov had been ‘The Dreamkiller’ for Team Russia in a variety of international tournaments, knocking off favorites by stealing games.
The world juniors were a different matter, however, as he got exposed up high by Sweden in a semifinal game that Russia ultimately won in overtime. Nevertheless, the experts are excited. “He’s the total package, between athleticism, size, compete level, mental approach,” said one scout. “There was some attention on the glove hand at the world juniors, that guys were picking on him, but that’s nitpicking beyond belief. This guy has the potential to be a No. 1 all day long.”
It’s also worth noting Askarov is still young enough to play in two more WJC tournaments.
Askarov looked stellar in his KHL debut with powerhouse SKA-St. Petersburg. “He carries himself as a No. 1 goalie,” said another scout. “He leads by example, and he gives his team a chance to win every time he’s in the net. He has shown he can rise up, play through adversity and bounce back. NHL teams know him well.”
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This excerpt is from The Hockey News' Draft Preview issue. Purchase a digital copy of the issue here.