Nearly one month to the day after it was reported that Nashville Predators top prospect Yaroslav Askarov would be coming to North America, the 19-year-old goaltender did just that.
Askarov signed a professional tryout contract on Tuesday for the rest of the 2021-22 season with the Milwaukee Admirals, the Predators’ American Hockey League affiliate, as announced by the team.
The Admirals, who play the Manitoba Moose in a best-of-five series in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs on Friday, lost top goalie Connor Ingram to the Predators following the lower-body injury to Juuse Saros on Apr. 28.
Ingram led the AHL in starts (54), minutes played (3,195:15), saves (1,541) shots faced (1,685), and shutouts (5). He also ranked second in wins (30), 12th in save percentage (.917) and 17th in goals-against average (2.70) while leading the Admirals to a 39-28-5-4 record and a third-place finish in the Central Division.
Askarov didn’t see the ice much this season, playing in just six games with SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League. He had a 2-1-2 record with a .913 save percentage and 1.81 goals-against average. The last game he played was in a 2-1 win over HC Sochi on Jan. 13.
The NHL severed ties with the Russian-based league after the country’s invasion of Ukraine, and teams were encouraged by the league to bring any of their KHL-affiliated players over to North America as quickly as possible.
In three seasons with SKA St. Petersburg, Askarov compiled an 8-5-2 record with a .937 save percentage and 1.48 goals-against average. He made his debut at the age of 17 in Nov. 2019, becoming the second-youngest goalie to ever start a KHL game.
Now that Askarov is officially on North American soil, Predators general manager David Poile will likely work to sign his 2020 first-round pick to an entry-level contract ahead of next season.
Ingram is expected to be Saros’ full-time backup next year, putting Askarov, who Predators chief amateur scout Tom Nolan described as a “franchise player” prior to the draft last year, in line to become the Admirals starting goalie in 2022.
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