Blackhawks: Can Chicago Realistically Get Yaroslav Askarov?
By Justin Klawans
With the Blackhawks’ goaltending issues being a consistent concern this offseason, Chicago may try looking to the Entry Draft to grab their goalie of the future. But do they have a chance to do so?
It’s no secret that the Chicago Blackhawks have to address their goaltending. Although Corey Crawford has been the Hawks’ bonafide starter for the last decade, he is now an unrestricted free agent. Chicago is working with just under $8 million in cap space, and as much as everyone would love to see Crow back at the United Center to stay, no guarantee will happen.
Some other upcoming free agents on the market could be decent options. Cam Talbot put up decent numbers this season with Calgary, and Anton Khudobin is currently backstopping the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Final and is a big reason why they got there. However, the price may end up coming into play again, and if GM Stan Bowman is looking to save money short term, he may want to look towards the 2020 NHL Draft.
Goaltender Yaroslav Askarov is the number one ranked netminder this year and is the consensus best goalie available. Askarov plays with SKA St. Petersburg of Russia’s KHL, and last year posted an impressive .920 save percentage. The KHL’s 2020-21 season started this month and Askarov is on a tear again, so far putting up a .974 save percentage over his first three games.
The 18-year-old has shown off some highlight-reel saves, to say the least:
Askarov is projected to go in the top ten of the draft, which presents a problem for the Blackhawks if they have any hope of snagging him. Currently, the Hawks are picking 17th, and with numerous teams looking for goalies, I’d say it is nearly impossible for the Blackhawks to get him unless they were to trade up for a top ten pick.
Would this be a wise decision for the Hawks? I don’t think so. With their cap space being as low as it is, they would have to try and unload players like Brent Seabrook (who has a no-trade clause) while still leaving themselves room to re-sign guys like Dominik Kubalik. The chances of teams wanting to take on contracts like that while moving down in the draft are very slim. I feel that the Hawks would end up losing more than they gain in the end.
The best chance that Chicago has to get Askarov is to honestly just hope that he slips down far enough that he’s still available at 17th. This is not going to happen, but you can always dream, right?
The Hawks have reportedly already given Corey Crawford an offer, so their best option would be to try and get him signed. If that doesn’t work, then Chicago would be best to look to the free-agent market to solve their goalie issue and use their 17th pick to get a skater that could benefit the team.
Will there be surprises at the podium this year? Will the Blackhawks shock everybody and end up with Askarov? Likely not, but find out for sure when the 2020 NHL Draft begins on October 6.