Scouting Report: Yaroslav Askarov

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Yaroslav Askarov is the best goaltender in the 2020 NHL Draft class. He grew up in Omsk, Russia and played youth hockey in the Avangard Omsk system.

Askarov catches right, which seems to be a rarity in hockey. Most goaltenders catch left over right and the list of successful goaltenders who caught right in the NHL is a rather short one. The most famous NHL goaltenders who caught right include Tony Esposito, Grant Fuhr, Jose Theodore and Jonas Hiller. In fact, most of the highly touted goaltending prospects in the 2020 NHL Draft class such as Nico Daws, Samuel Hlavaj, Nick Malik, Jan Bednář and Joel Blomqvist all catch with their left hand.

Per EliteProspects, Askarov played U16 hockey with Buldogi St. Petersburg in 2017-18. Once the season concluded, he joined the SKA St. Petersburg’s system.

For those who are unaware about Russian youth hockey, SKA St. Petersburg has become one of the best youth hockey developmental systems in Europe. There are quite a few 2020 and 2021 NHL Draft prospects in their system including Marat Khusnutdinov, Nikita Shuidin, Nikita Chibrikov and Daniil Lazutin. Lazutin and Chibrikov were dealt to SKA St. Petersburg a few months back in a trade with Dynamo Moscow.

But, let’s go back to Askarov. He made his MHL debut in 2018-19 with SKA-Varyagi, in which he mustered up a 2.37 GAA and a .921 SV% in 31 appearances. This past season, he spent most of his time playing in the VHL for SKA-Neva St. Petersburg. He appeared in 18 games and recorded a 2.45 GAA and a .920 SV%. In addition, he suited at the KHL level for SKA St. Petersburg in one game.

Aside from league play, Askarov has suited up for Russia at the international level and competed in several tournaments including the World Juniors, Hlinka Gretzky and Five Nations.

Player Profile

D.O.B – June 16, 2002
Nationality – Russia
Draft Eligibility – 2020
Height –6’3
Weight –176 lbs
Position – Goaltender
Catches – Right

Askarov’s Style Of Play

As I mentioned above, Askarov catches with his right hand, which is interesting because when you compare his save percentage with shots coming at his blocker versus his glove, he tends to be much stronger with his blocker. Goaltenders are normally stronger with their glove than their blocker and that is mainly because shooters tend to shoot the puck high blocker versus to the glove. In the chart below from InStat Hockey, you will see Askarov’s save percentages.

Photo Credit: InStat Hockey

If you are looking to compare Askarov’s above/below blocker percentage and above/below glove to other 2020 NHL Draft eligibles goaltenders, check out the table below. *Note – the two highest percentages per category are highlighted in yellow.

Stats from InStat Hockey

As you can see from the table, Askarov is one of the stronger goaltenders in the group. His above blocker, below blocker and below glove percentages are higher than some of his peers. But, it is abundantly clear that Askarov has some work to do in developing his glove work as shots that go higher than his glove have an 18% chance of getting past him. I

Aside from Askarov’s glove and blocker work, he is a strong hybrid goaltender that will rely on his butterfly quite often when his opponents have possession of the puck in his zone. He does an outstanding job of using his edges and power pushing off of his pads to move around the net at a quick rate. Askarov’s ability to push his pads quickly helps him defend 2 on-1 and 2-on-0 situations. With how dynamic he is at reading the puck movement and how quick he is at transitioning, it is a challenge to fool him. His reflexes are just too sharp.

In terms of protecting the sides of the net, Askarov tends to use the RVH approach rather than the VH approach which means that he leans into the post and his pads are aligned in a half vertical/horizontal shape rather than a VH (left leg vertical, right leg horizontal). Askarov hugs the corners of the net when he leans in to limit the amount of open net. Also, while some goaltenders like Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens tend to use the overlap technique to shield the post when implementing the RVH, Askarov does not use the overlap.


Jonathan Quick, Goaltender, LA Kings

While some analysts and scouts have stated that Askarov looks like Carey Price, I would argue that Jonathan Quick is a better comparable. With how strong Quick is at power pushing off of his pads and defending scoring chances in the slot, he seems to be a stronger comparable for Askarov. Also, Quick does not overlap when using RVH, while Price does overlap. So, I would argue that Quick is a stronger comparable for the Russian net-minder.

stats from InStat Hockey and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.

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