Iaroslav Askarov could be the second goalie in 15 years to be chosen among the top 10 selections in the NHL Draft.
Askarov, of Neva St. Petersburg in the Supreme Hockey League, Russia's minor league, is hoping to join Carey Price, who went No. 5 to the Montreal Canadiens in the 2005 NHL Draft.
The team that selects Askarov may consider taking a similar development approach as the Tampa Bay Lightning did with Andrei Vasilevskiy after selecting him with the No. 19 pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. The Lightning showed a lot of patience and belief in Vasilevskiy, allowing him to develop for two seasons in Russia before bringing him to North America in 2014-15.
"[Askarov] is the best goalie I've seen entering the NHL Draft since Carey Price (in 2005)," said Craig Button, TSN director of scouting and an NHL analyst, and a former NHL general manager. "Going through my notes, watching and seeing how he plays, he reads the play, is elite and a future No. 1 in this League."
Spencer Knight was the first of 22 goalies selected in the 2019 NHL Draft when he went No. 13 to the Florida Panthers.
Here are NHL.com's top 10 goalies available for the 2020 draft:
1. Iaroslav Askarov, Neva St. Petersburg (RUS-2)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 1 (International goalies)
The 18-year-old is an intimidating presence with great poise, athleticism and a quick glove. He has a proven track record in the clutch, helping Russia to six top-three finishes in six international events. Askarov, who has the size (6-foot-3, 176 pounds) and compete level to become a No. 1 NHL goalie someday, was 12-3-3 with a 2.45 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in 18 games in Russia's minor league. He could become the third Russia-born goalie in NHL history to be chosen first at his position, joining Ilya Samsonov (Washington Capitals, No. 22, 2015 NHL Draft) and Vasilevskiy.
2. Nicolas Daws, Guelph (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 1 (North American goalies)
Daws (6-4, 199), was born in Germany but moved to Canada when he was 6 months old. He was passed over in the 2019 NHL Draft, but this season went 23-8-6 with a 2.48 GAA, five shutouts and .924 save percentage in 38 games. He's calm and cool in any situation with great instincts and made a huge improvement over 2018-19, when he had a 3.25 GAA and an .893 save percentage in 20 games. The 19-year-old is efficient in his lateral mobility, absorbs shots well and can effectively handle and move the puck out of his net, according to NHL Central Scouting's Al Jensen. He played in two games for first-place Canada at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.
3. Drew Commesso, USA U-18 (NTDP)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 2 (North American goalies)
He had the second-lowest GAA (2.05) and sixth-highest save percentage (.920) in one season with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team. Commesso (6-2, 180), who will attend Boston University in 2020-21, finished 18-7-1 and had three shutouts in 30 games. He presents excellent instincts, quickness and a calming presence in tense situations. Commesso could be one of the steals of the 2020 draft class if developed properly.
Video: Drew Commesso's highlights with USNTDP
4. Samuel Hlavaj, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 3 (North American goalies)
Hlavaj (6-4, 218), who was No. 5 on NHL Central Scouting's list of North American goalies last season but passed over in the 2019 NHL Draft, has good pro size with quickness and athleticism. He's capable of challenging shooters with very good net coverage and angle play, according to Jensen. He finished 33-3-2 with a 2.25 GAA and three shutouts in 39 games. Born in Martin, Slovakia, Hlavaj's .915 save percentage ranked third among QMJHL goalies who played at least 15 games.
5. Jan Bednar, Sokolov (CZREP)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 2 (International goalies)
Bednar (6-4, 196), who has a quick glove, good instincts and confidence, won Czech Extraliga Rookie of the Year after finishing with a 2.73 GAA and .917 save percentage in 10 games for HC Energie Karlovy Vary in 2018-19. He had a 3.26 GAA and .873 save percentage in 24 games with HC Banik Sokolov in Czech Republic's second division this season. He plays a technically sound game with good body control when in motion, according to NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb.
6. Joel Blomqvist, Karpat (FIN)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 3 (International goalies)
Blomqvist (6-1, 182) had a 1.66 GAA, .931 save percentage and five shutouts in 34 games for Karpat's junior team before gaining some experience with Karpat in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, for two games later in the season. He challenges shooters and possesses good rebound control with quick reflexes. In March, Blomqvist signed a three-year contract with Karpat that runs through 2022-23.
7. Will Cranley, Ottawa (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 4 (North American goalies)
The OHL rookie was 18-2-0 with a 2.81 GAA, four shutouts and .894 save percentage in 21 games. His performance got better as his confidence grew during the season. Cranley (6-4, 183) plays the angles well and has excellent positional play. He forces the shooter to make the perfect shot in order to score and that's a quality he should be able to transfer to the pro level someday, according to Jensen.
8. Garin Bjorklund, Medicine Hat (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 5 (North American goalies)
Bjorklund (6-2, 173) was 20-5-1 with a 2.91 GAA and .897 save percentage in 28 games. He went 3-0 in shootouts, stopping five of seven shots. He's athletic, quick and capable of making the big save while moving laterally. He has good work habits and learned plenty as the backup to Mads Sogaard, chosen by the Ottawa Senators in the second round (No. 37) of the 2019 NHL Draft.
9. Calle Clang, Rogle Jr. (SWE-JR)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 4 (International goalies)
Clang (6-2, 194) had a 2.64 GAA, two shutouts and .913 save percentage in 34 games for Rogle's team in SuperElit, Sweden's junior league. He helped Sweden to a third-place finish at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup with a 1.50 GAA and .953 save percentage in two games. Clang covers the net well, is mobile and quick in his reactionary and recovery time.
10. Amir Miftakhov, Bars Kazan (RUS-2)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 5 (International goalies)
Miftakhov (6-0, 172), eligible but passed over in the NHL draft the past two years, finished 8-10 with a 2.19 GAA, two shutouts and .913 save percentage in 23 games for Bars Kazan in the VHL, Russia's minor league. The 19-year-old late bloomer played a big part in Russia's second-place finish at the 2020 World Juniors with a 2.12 GAA, one shutout and .919 save percentage in five games. He reads the game well, remains in control and shows good athleticism during scrambles in front of the net.
Photo credit: Terry Wilson/OHLImages
Listen: New episode of NHL Draft Class