With the 11th overall pick, the Nashville Predators selected goalie Iaroslav Askarov from the SKA organization in Russia. At 6’4”, Askarov sat 11th in my final 2020 NHL Entry Draft ranking, and—despite Anton Lundell being on the board—Nashville picked for the net. It seems unusual for a goalie to be selected this high, but Askarov has the serious potential to be a franchise goalie for this organization.
At every level, Askarov has dominated. As a 16-year old, he posted a 0.921 save percentage for SKA-Varyagi of the MHL (the Russian junior league); last season, he finished with a 0.920 save percentage in 18 games in the VHL (the Russian minor league); and he already has three starts in the KHL this season with a 0.974 save percentage.
Askarov will likely stay in the KHL this season for SKA St. Petersburg, and Nashville will hold his negotiating rights indefinitely.
Pending a trade, Nashville will pick next in round two at 37th overall.
[This article has been updated to reflect the NHL’s Romanization of Askarov’s name from Yaroslav to Iaroslav.]