The NHL has announced that training camps for the return to play will begin on July 10. Much analysis will be done between now and then on the playoff matchups and each team’s chances. The draft has effectively been placed on the backburner, but with so many prospects to dissect, we continue on to look at some goaltenders. This year’s crop is not especially deep in high-end talent at that position but there are some prospects that have some intrigue as later round picks. Here are a few goalies that the Philadelphia Flyers will be considering in this year’s draft.
2019-20 Team: SKA Neva St. Petersburg (VHL), SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
2019-20 Stats: 18 Games Played, 12-3-3 Record, 2.45 GAA, .920 SV% (VHL), 1 Game Played, 1-0-0 Record, 2.00 GAA, .920 SV% (KHL)
Weight: 176 pounds
The top goaltender in this draft and the only one projected to go in the first round, Yaroslav Askarov has been heralded as a can’t-miss super prospect between the pipes. Drawing early comparisons to Carey Price, Askarov has demonstrated his skill as he dominated the Russian junior league this past season. He also saw a call up to the KHL, when he became the second-youngest goalie in history to play in the KHL, a game he won 4-2 at the age of 17.
He has the desired size for modern goalies while being agile and composed in the net. His maturity for his age is noteworthy and his game is well rounded, combining smooth lateral movement, excellent puck tracking and high-level athleticism. There isn’t much to critique about his game, which is quite rare for such a young goalie. For these attributes, he will likely be selected high in this draft by a goalie-deprived team.
Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide
Given the emergence of Carter Hart and the overall positional depth that the Flyers have in net, it is doubtful they invest such draft capital in yet another netminder. The only exception would be in the unlikely event that Askarov is still available at the end of the first round or into the second. At that point, the value would be too good for the Flyers to pass up. If this were to happen it would represent an outstanding backup plan should Hart get injured or experience some drastic drop off in his performance, or a premium trade chip, assuming Hart continues his ascension.
2019-20 Team: Guelph Storm (OHL)
2019-20 Stats: 38 Games Played, 23-8-6 Record, 2.48 GAA, .924 SV%
Weight: 199 pounds
A player that majorly improved his draft stock this past season, Nico Daws was the top goalie in the OHL this season playing for the Guelph Storm. Part of this improvement was the result of rededicating himself to his training and losing 30 pounds in the offseason. He tracks the puck well, reducing the need to make drastic sprawls across the net, he has good size and overall looks smooth and composed in goal.
Related: Do You Know Your NHL Goalie Trivia?
Due to the unpredictable nature of goaltender development, teams have become less and less willing to spend first-round picks on them. Case in point would be Carter Hart, who was the top goalie in his draft, had a mature approach, and very few flaws in his game, yet even he lasted until the middle of the second round. This has bearing for Daws, who has some serious question marks to go along with his talent.
The concerns about him as a prospect stem from a few different sources, none of which can be completely brushed aside. First, he had some difficulty corralling rebounds after making the initial save, second, his track record is inconsistent, only producing one year of high-quality play, and finally, he had his biggest struggles when the spotlights were on, having had rough performances at both the World Junior Championships, where he lost his starting job for Team Canada, and in the OHL playoffs.
Young goaltenders often have their ups and downs but it will be scouts’ jobs to determine the severity and how correctable these issues are. The Flyers have more pressing needs than in net, so if they were to select Daws, it is doubtful that it would be with one of their first two picks.
2019-20 Team: US National Development Program U-18 (NTDP), Team USA (USHL)
2019-20 Stats: 30 Games Played, 18-7-1 Record, 2.05 GAA, .920 SV% (NTDP), 11 Games Played, 8-2-0 Record, 2.01 GAA, .917 SV% (USHL)
Weight: 180 pounds
The lowest-ranked goalie in this article is the one that may actually be the most appealing to the Flyers. Drew Commesso spent this season as the starting goalie for the US National Development Program team, attempting to fill the void left by prized Florida Panthers prospect Spencer Knight, the team’s starter from the year before. Not the same caliber of prospect as Knight, Commesso played well for the team, showcasing good puck tracking and body control.
He has NHL size but he has some wrinkles to iron out in his game to make it to the higher levels. He does not possess high-level athleticism and can lose his composure a bit in scramble situations. He has also committed himself to work on the psychological aspects of his game, mainly his approach and preparation. Commesso was quoted as saying “This year, I started becoming looser before games, interacting with my teammates but still staying focused.
“Finding that balance is important between staying too focused and staying loose. You have to find that balance. I worked on that a ton this summer, what makes me happy and calm before games.”
This attitude not only demonstrates maturity, but also his coachability, which should make him an easy sell to the coaching staff.
Related: Vladislav Tretiak – Goaltending Guru
What will also make him appealing for the Flyers is that he is not projected to be a high draft pick, making him more of a bargain bin selection with some decent upside and he is already committed to attend Boston University next season, meaning that he will have several years to develop without needing to be signed to an entry-level contract. Acquiring a goalie prospect that does not require high-value draft capital to get and has a longer developmental path in place would be a win-win for Philadelphia.
Replenishing a Rebuilt Pipeline
The Flyers have seen the light regarding goalie development compared to years past. The past two regimes have invested in the position fairly heavily given the unpredictable nature of goaltender progression, and it has begun to pay off for the club.
With Alex Lyon set for free agency and several of the teams’ other goalie prospects set to duke it out for starting duties and primary call-up rights in Lehigh Valley for the Phantoms next season, the Flyers would be wise to continue to add depth in this area. The team can now afford to roll the dice on more of a project player, with no immediate pressure to develop quickly.