Corey Crawford is approaching retirement. In the next few years, the Blackhawks are going to need a number one goalie. If you can’t get him in a trade, where else can you get him?
Yaroslav Askarov, a 17-year-old Russian goalie is considered the best goalie in the draft since Carey Price in 2005; he’s praised as a generational talent. He shows great flexibility, with fantastic lateral movement, and a hockey IQ the NHL draft has not seen from a goalie in years.
In 18 starts for SKA Neva St. Petersburg (the minor league team to SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL) this year, he posted a 12-3-3 record, with a .920 save percentage and a 2.45 GAA. With his fantastic play, he earned a start for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. The big leagues; the best league in the world behind the NHL. He lived up to the challenge and posted a .920 save percentage while turning away 23 of 25 shots, all as a 17-year old!
On top of these tremendous performances, he helped Russia win a gold medal in the U18 World Juniors, beating Canada 3-2 by backstopping 25 of 27 shots in the gold medal game. He has played against men, and has showed he can play at a high level. It’s time for him to take his talents to the National Hockey League.
As I stated earlier, Corey Crawford will need a replacement soon. While Kevin Lankinen and Collin Delia are showing they can most likely be NHL backups, I don’t believe they can handle the 60-65 game grind that the regular starters work through. And, Matt Tomkins, who is projected to be Kevin Lankinen’s backup in the AHL next year as Collin Delia moves up to the NHL, was drafted in 2012. It’s been too long. He’s only an AHL backup this far into his career. In a few years, he will most likely also be considered a bust of a draft pick.
Stan Bowman needs to look at his depth chart, at an aging Corey Crawford, and realize this is an opportunity he can’t pass up. The future of NHL goaltending is right in the palm of his hands and he needs to grasp it. The time is now to draft your goalie of the future.
Photo Credit: The Draft Analyst