With the AHL demotion of Jack Campbell, who signed a five-year, $25 million contract in the offseason, the Edmonton Oilers have arguably the worst goaltending situation in the NHL.
They’re also reportedly searching for an upgrade in net, and TSN’s Ryan Rishaug recently suggested on the “Got Yer Back” podcast that the Oilers should check in with the Nashville Predators and see what it would cost to pry away top prospect Yaroslav Askarov.
“It would take a lot (to acquire him) because he’s their goalie of the future, but he’s working out and he’s playing well,” Rishaug said. “No, he doesn’t have the NHL experience yet, but maybe you dig into your assets to fix your biggest problem?”
But is Askarov available, and if so, what would it take to acquire him?
An NHL source indicated to Nashville Hockey Now that GM Barry Trotz prefers to hang on to both Askarov and Juuse Saros, but he could consider moving the former if he was “intrigued by the right offer of draft capital and young talent coming back.”
While it would be a pricey move — likely costing the Oilers their 2024 first-round pick plus one of their top prospects including Xavier Bourgault, Raphael Lavoie or Matvey Petrov — it’s one the Oilers can afford should they choose to go all-in on goaltending this year and not waste any more of 26-year-old Connor McDavid and 28-year-old Leon Draisaitl’s primes.
Askarov has been one of the hottest goaltenders in the AHL, posting a league-leading 1.60 goals-against average and a.935 save percentage, which ranks third-best among goalies to start four or more AHL games this season.
Of the goalies in the Predators system, he’s the one Trotz would most likely part with. In fact, Trotz (unsuccessfully) dangled the 21-year-old net-minder during the 2023 draft in an attempt to move into the top five.
— Michael Gallagher (@MGsports_) June 28, 2023
Askarov is also the more affordable option between himself and Saros, who’s asking price included two first-round picks plus 2-3 premium prospects when the Los Angeles Kings inquired about him ahead of the trade deadline last season.
Trotz has already confirmed his intentions to sign the 28-year-old Saros, who he appears to be fully committed to as the Predators’ franchise goalie, to an extension this summer. He even pointed to Connor Hellebuyck’s seven-year, $59.5 million contract ($8.5M AAV) as the likely starting point for Saros’ new deal.
“Saros wants to be here,” Trotz told The Athletic last month. “If he wants to be here, I want him to be here. … Juuse is a star player; I’m going to treat him like a star player. I think he’s got lots of hockey left. Yaroslav Askarov is a star prospect, but … he’s (just) a star prospect.”
Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_