NHL Draft 2020: Expert Predictions for Yaroslav Askarov, Top Goaltenders

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIIJune 13, 2020

Russia's goaltender Yaroslav Askarov makes a save during the U20 Ice Hockey Worlds semifinal match between Sweden and Russia in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Petr David Josek/Associated Press

Over the past five NHL drafts, there have only been three goalies selected in the first round. That includes last year, when the Florida Panthers selected the USA Hockey National Team Development Program's Spencer Knight with the 13th overall pick.

While it's not a common occurrence, it's likely to happen again in 2020, as many analysts project Russian goaltender Yaroslav Askarov to be a first-round selection. And while there may not be another drafted for a while after that, there are some other talented goalies in this year's class who have the potential to become solid NHL players.

Here are where the experts are projecting several of the top goaltenders in this year's class, including Askarov, to get drafted.

                       

Yaroslav Askarov, SKA-Neva (VHL)

It's likely that Askarov could be the only goaltender selected during the first round of this year's NHL draft. The bigger question is just how early the 17-year-old could be taken and whether he might even be a top-10 pick.

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Askarov solidified his draft stock with a strong showing in the VHL this past season, posting a .920 save percentage and 2.45 goals-against average in 18 games. One potential landing spot could be the New Jersey Devils, who own three first-round picks. He went No. 10 to them in The Athletic's beat writer mock draft in April.

"Mackenzie Blackwood has established himself as the No. 1 guy this season, but few goalies can match Askarov's upside," The Athletic's Corey Masisak wrote. "... Having three picks in the top 17 mitigates some of the risk of taking a goaltender this high."

NHL.com's Adam Kimelman and Mike G. Morreale both projected Askarov to go to the Minnesota Wild at No. 11. So expect Askarov to get drafted somewhere in that range and for the team using an early selection on the goaltender to install him as its goaltender in the not-too-distant future.

                       

Drew Commesso, USA U18 (NTDP)

PLYMOUTH, MI - DECEMBER 11: Drew Commesso #35 of the U.S. Nationals makes a save against the Slovakia Nationals during game two of day one of the 2018 Under-17 Four Nations Tournament game at USA Hockey Arena on December 11, 2018 in Plymouth, Michigan. US
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

It's not clear who the second goaltender selected in this year's draft will be, but Drew Commesso is one of the candidates who could be picked around the second or third round.

In 27 games for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program this past season, Commesso had a .920 save percentage and a 2.05 goals-against average. He's also committed to play for Boston University, one of the best college hockey programs in the country, next season, so he should continue to get better.

In late May, The Hockey Writers did a seven-round mock draft, and Commesso was the second goaltender selected. The 17-year-old went to the Los Angeles Kings, who could be in the market for a goalie in light of Jonathan Quick's declining ability as he ages, with the No. 55 overall pick in the second round.

"He's got the size and frame that NHL teams are looking for," Jack Dawkins of The Hockey Writers wrote. "His stats are good. His film is good. He's just all around a solid goalie prospect."

It will likely take some time before Commesso makes an impact in the NHL, but he has the potential to develop into a standout goaltender.

                        

Nico Daws, Guelph (OHL)

Commesso is No. 2 on NHL.com's prospect rankings of North American goaltenders in this year's draft class. The top goalie on that list is Canadian Nico Daws, who had a strong showing (.924 save percentage and 2.48 goals-against average in 38 games) for the Guelph Storm in the OHL this season.

In The Hockey Writers' mock, Daws went in the fourth round to the Calgary Flames, who could use some goaltending depth in their system. And with the No. 96 overall pick, it could end up being a steal if Daws develops into an NHL starter, as Mathieu Sheridan of The Hockey Writers thinks he could do.

"Daws moves really well in his crease," Sheridan wrote. "He glides effortlessly from post to post and is able to make highlight-reel plays look easy. He has good rebound control and is rarely caught out of position. He is calm under pressure and is able to make a play with the puck when he leaves his net."

Although Daws lasted until the fourth round in The Hockey Writers' mock, don't be surprised if he's selected earlier, potentially as high as the second round, whenever this year's draft takes place.

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