Yaroslav Askarov has been known for a while to be the next man in the goaltending pipeline for the Nashville Predators, but the future of Jose Saros has always been complicated.
Basically, it’s hard to imagine hunters holding Saros and Askarov for much longer. And Saros will be a UFA in the summer of 2025.
On a recent episode of the “Got Yer Back” podcast, hosts Pierre LeBrun and Ryan Rishaug speculated about the Edmonton Oilers’ hairy situation after picking up Jack Campbell and now needing a replacement goaltender for the future.
Ryan Rishaug in “Got Yer Back!” The podcast suggested trying to get Askarov from top-seeded Nashville in the AHL, with LeBrun saying he would be too dangerous for the Oilers, even though he’s big in the minors and hasn’t proven he can make it at the NHL level.
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) November 8, 2023
The Oilers are a mess at goalie right now, should they be interested in Askarov?
It’s not wrong to highlight Rishaug Askarov as a possible trade unit for Nashville to finally find the right value. But only if the Predators front office goes the Pekka Rinne route with Saros and marries the franchise’s longtime goaltender.
I can’t imagine Trots rushing to trade Askarov unless it’s just a king’s ransom he can’t refuse.
LeBron Oilers push back on trade for former 11th overall pick
More interestingly, LeBrun went on to say that the Oilers would be better off trying to trade for Saros, but general manager Barry Trotz has made it clear that he has no interest in trading Saros.
“Not that it wasn’t a valid speculation regarding the business, Trotz was quick to dispel any potential rumours. Saying Saros is a vital part of the Guardians’ plans, Trotz hailed Saros as a “special goalkeeper” and expressed his eagerness to secure the netminder’s future with the club. -Barry Trotz on not trading Saros, Per NHL Trade Talk
If a desperate team really likes Askarov and offers something serious to the Predators, I wouldn’t be against trading Askarov. I’m thinking a mid-draft pick and a starter at the NHL level. at least. Especially at this early stage when the Predators are in no rush to trade Askarov.
The clock is ticking on what will happen with Askov in 2024-25. At that time, Saros must sign a new long-term contract extension, and Askarov will be a full-time backup. Kevin Lankin moved as a free agent.
The Predators are looking for Askarov to make an appearance at the AHL level this season. He is in his second season in North America, and is coming off a .935 save percentage and 1.60 GAA through his first five games.
Askarov last started in 2015. He made 35 saves in 37 games on November 4, but still suffered a one-goal loss against his Admiral teammates.
Askarov has just one NHL start under his belt. He made his unexpected NHL debut this year on January 12th in a wild game against the Canadiens. In less than two minutes of the first period, he scored two goals, made 31 saves and finished with an 886 percent save percentage.
What is the best move for the Nashville Predators and their three goals?
Hunters have to be patient here. The phone will continue to ring with both Saros and Askarov until Saros gets a long-term signing. When and if this happens, as long as he continues to play at a high level for the Admirals, the trade questions will be louder for Askarov.
There’s also always the possibility of Lankin being traded at the 2024 trade deadline and Askarov being named the backup to close out 2023-24 for the Hunters. As much as I appreciate the quality backup that Lankinen has been to Saros, I really like this scenario.
One of the three must be traded before next season. This is my firm belief. We’ll have to see what Askarov can offer at the NHL level before we know exactly how much trade value he’ll fetch, or whether it’s worth staying to take over for Saros.
Unless Trotz has a complete change of heart, or for that matter is playing the sleazy car salesman, Saros will finally get a long-term contract and Askarov will be a legitimate business.
At some point I’m trading Lankin before it’s too late and raising Askarov as a backup. If the Predators are out of the playoff hunt long enough, they’ll give Askorov plenty of starts to close out 2023-24. Get a good sample size before 2024-25.
As for the Oilers’ messy goaltending situation, they’d probably be better off looking elsewhere. I don’t see the Predators front office rushing to trade Askov, nor should they be.