Nashville Predators 2020 first-round pick Yaroslav Askarov is considered one of, if not the top goaltending prospect in the world, and he showed exactly why with his performance during the AHL All-Star Classic.
The 21-year-old Russian made 10 combined saves on 13 shots against in two of the Central Division’s three games during Monday night’s All-Star Challenge (a 3-on-3 round-robin tournament), which included arguably the AHL Save of the Year on an Ethen Frank point-blank shot in the Central’s 4-1 win over the Atlantic Division.
Yaroslav Askarov is him pic.twitter.com/gn46J2lSW7
— Michael Gallagher (@MGsports_) February 6, 2024
It was a commendable encore performance following the highlight-reel saves he made the day before during the AHL Skills Competition.
Askarov used his patented diving poke-check — a move he’s shown off several times during Predators development camp and rookie camp — to stop Hartford’s Brennan Othmann during a shootout attempt and immediately followed it up by stopping Frank on the subsequent shootout attempt without his stick and with his gloveless left hand behind his back.
— Milwaukee Admirals (@mkeadmirals) February 5, 2024
Askarov’s shootout prowess is nothing new. In fact, his first NHL win came in a 3-2 shootout win over the Washington Capitals on Dec. 30 in which he stopped shots from countrymen Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin.
Through 24 games, Askarov ranks fourth in the AHL in goals-against average (2.17) and fifth in both wins (17) and save percentage (.921). He’s helped lead the Central Division-leading Admirals to an 11-game win streak, including an undefeated month of January in which he posted three shutouts.
“He’s played well all year,” Admirals coach Karl Taylor said of Askarov last month on the “Preds Official Podcast.” “He’s always working on his areas of weakness, just like anyone that’s at this level. … He’s got a little more moxie and a little more confidence and he looks great. He’s doing a great job.”
Askarov appears to be on the verge of pushing for a spot in the NHL, and he could be backing up Juuse Saros in the not-too-distant future.
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