Top 4 Goalie Prospects Heading into the 2020 NHL Draft
By: Joe Borek
We now know since NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s announcement on Wednesday, that the NHL entry draft will be held after the season is complete rather than sometime in June as previously rumored. This now, of course, gives teams more time to continue to interview talent during these unforeseen circumstances. Well, what talent is more important other than your goaltending? Maybe defense can be argued, but just like they say you can never have enough good defenders, you can also never have enough good goaltending. The buck stops with them. If the goalie struggles then likely your team struggles unless they are just that offensively studded or defensively inclined. So without further ado, let’s get into the top four goalies entering into this year’s draft.
Some fans probably remember when the Flyers drafted Carter Hart and he was compared to one of the best goalies of the 2000s and arguably all-time, in Carey Price. Well here is another guy compared to the great Price. Russian native Askarov has great poise and awareness especially for a kid who is only 17 years of age. He will turn 18 on June 16th. He like Hart and Price mentioned above, is very calm and collected in net. He is always in the perfect position almost anticipating shots similar to fellow Russians Sergei Bobrovsky and Andrei Vasilevskiy. Askarov is projected to go in the top half of the first round, as the only goalie of the four to go in the first in general. He also has a chance to become the highest selected Russian goalie in history as long as he gets selected before the 19th pick. Askarov is coming in at 6 feet 3 inches and 176 pounds according to eliteprospects.com. He has had a heck of a young career already, becoming Russia’s under-18 starting goalie at only 16 years of age a position that he impressed in yet again this season at 17 years. In the U18 World Championships, he thoroughly impressed helping to lead his team to a silver medal. Highlights of the U18 can be seen below. Askarov has also killed it in the VHL, Russia’s second league. The only time he has struggled was in the World Juniors where he was Russia’s starter at only 17. He is still developing into the elite goaltender he is likely to become, but Askarov for sure is going to be the first goalie off the board, and it’s not close. He is a potential generational talent in net, whoever gets him should want to do backflips and cartwheels after.
German Native Nico Daws has shown steady improvement each season. He comes in the oldest of the four at 19 in his third year of eligibility. Even though the separation between Askarov and others is rather noticeable, that does not mean these other goalies will not make their mark. They might just take a little bit longer to do so and be guys that come up closer to their age 23-24 season rather than 21-22 seasons. Per reports Daws spent the last offseason, really working on getting in better shape, which some labeled as a concern for the netminder. This season it showed as Daws was hands down the best goalie in the OHL. His remarkable play earned him a spot in the World Juniors for Team Canada where he struggled but only in a very small two-game sample size. While in the OHL this season, Daws posted career-best marks of a 2.48 GAA with a very pleasing to scout’s eyes, .924 SV% setting him up to be the second goalie taken in this year’s draft. Some of his 2019-20 OHL highlights can be seen in the video below.
Commesso for sure is a rawer talent than Askarov who is not only going to be picked first but also makes an impact possibly a few years even before these other netminders. He however is almost even with Daws in my opinion, making the second and third position a coin flip. U.S. native Commesso has put up stellar stats and play of his own awarding him the third spot on the list. You can see a sample of his stellar play down below as Commesso posts a shutout in an Under-17 game with the U.S. National team against the Central Illinois Flying Aces during the 2018-19 season. He has shown steady improvement each season posting a 2.05 GAA (goals-against average) with a .920 SV% (save percentage) for the U.S. National Under-18 team this season in 27 games. He also had stellar plays in 11 games for the USNTDP Juniors. In those 11 games, Commesso had a 2.01 GAA with a .917 SV% to go along with it. Commesso will turn 18 on July 189h and is likely a guy who will take longer to develop than potentially our top two picks but when he does as I said before he can be even with Daws in this draft (in my opinion).
If you’re a sucker for first impressions then Czech native Bednar is your guy. In 2018-19 after only 10 stellar appearances in the Czech league, he was named the rookie of the year. He struggled some this season in but played a total of 37 games between the Czech and the Czech 2 leagues. Between the two-league, his average goals against was a 3.825 with a .879 save percentage to go along with it. His experience in Czech Republic’s two pro leagues at such a young age of 17, even while not putting up eye-popping stats still help Bednar’s draft stock as he enters the 2020 NHL Draft. He will turn 18 on August 26th. He is a guy that is likely going to take the longest to develop but with the right coaching can become a very solid netminder of his own and a potential steal for someone in the draft as the fourth-ranked goaltender. He has great size and is very mobile. He just needs to work at his craft and hone it in a bit more to become the next good Czech goaltender. I personally believe he has it in him from reading up on him over time. Unfortunately, I was not able to find a highlight video on Bednar.
So there you have it, my top four goalies, heading into the 2020 draft. Do you agree? Comment below!