11. Nashville Predators: Yaroslav Askarov G – 6’2, 176 lbs
The best goaltender in the Draft simply cannot be ignored at this rank. and Nashville could be questioning whether Juuse Saros and Connor Ingram are really their goalies of the future.
When you look at Askarov play, he has legit top-5 goaltender potential and has really grown over the last year. His lateral movements are incredibly smooth and controlled, which is rare for a goalie this young. He also reads the play very well and understands the play very quickly as it develops, which prompts him to play the puck a fair bit.
Let’s get a closer look at the Yaroslav Askarov save from today.— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) September 20, 2020
The reaction by Voyevodin says it all. pic.twitter.com/lQe75KBxbd
Askarov has been impressive at his age in almost every single tournament or league he’s played in, except the most recent World Junior Championship. That tournament was a very up-and-down event for the 17-year old netminder. He looked very nervous and didn’t perform like many expected, however prior to the tournament and especially after the tournament, Askarov was on a mission. In his few games in the KHL, he looked extremely confident and fluid.
Making incredible saves, primarily due to his strong lateral movements and his cat-like reflexes in net, Askarov showed exactly why many peg him as a future franchise goaltender. He has the speed, size, competitiveness, mobility, and flexibility to be one of the best goaltenders in the NHL within the next 3-5 years.
12. Florida Panthers: Kaiden Guhle LD – 6’2, 186 lbs
Guhle is a very quiet yet effective defender for the Prince Albert Raiders, and is known for his solid two-way play and his reliable three-zone coverage. The first thing that strikes you when it comes to Guhle is how much ground he covers on the ice, due to his long reach and good skating. Out of all the defensemen ranked in the first round, Guhle’s total, yet unspectacular package makes him an ideal player to come in and stabilize Florida’s left side long-term. He would be their first defenseman picked in the first round since Aaron Ekblad in 2014!
I’m really starting to warm up on Kaiden Guhle . I thought he was really limited offensively but I’m starting to see some very impressive flashes. He’s improving pretty quickly 👍 pic.twitter.com/7gISS3Dr8B— Yannick St-Pierre (@DraftDynasty1) March 2, 2020
The offensive potential is there to play a similar style of play to that of Jacob Slavin, but that will largely be dictated by his ability to continue producing on the power play. His shot and vision should make him a solid secondary guy on the power play, and his vision and passing will likely keep him there for the length of his career.
That’s so Western League bruh— Rink Rat Report (@RinkRatReport) August 5, 2019
Great thud by Kaiden Guhle pic.twitter.com/4KwNHV9iyu
Guhle’s defensive game remains his main attributes, as he is great at boxing out opponents, throwing solid hits and starting the counter-attack with a strong first pass. The most recent trade involving Mike Matheson heading to Pittsburgh also adds credence that a defenseman will be taken at this point for Florida, as they haven’t take a D in the 1st round since Ekblad in 2014. With this selection, I feel Florida can really shore up their defensive corps and add some mobility on the backend, while also being a force physically once he fills out.
13. Carolina Hurricanes (via Leafs): Anton Lundell C – 6’1, 185 lbs
The Carolina Hurricanes can literally go in any direction here because most of their roster is very young, and they have good prospects in almost every position. So the BPA in this situation is without a doubt the best centre on the board: Anton Lundell.
Lundell uses his strong Hockey IQ to put himself in key positions to either defend of score. Furthermore, he has very good hands, almost underrated I would say, in tight and could be a very good option for any team below the circle on the PP. He plays a strong overall game and controls the puck like almost no other in this class.
One aspect of his game I feel many people have not discussed is Lundell’s goalscoring ability. In the above sequence, he is able to extract the puck along the boards, create create the zone entry with speed and attack the centre ice (normally a player lacking confidence will pull to the right or left circle to look for a pass) and unleashes a very powerful wrist shot.
We have seen Lundell utilize his shot more often as the 2019-2020 season went on and again during Liiga pre-season in August and September. In the sequence below we get a close up at his shooting mechanics which show very good power, flex, technique and puck velocity from Lundell. That’s a goal scorers goal, and I strongly believe notions of his ”lack of offensive upside” have been greatly overdone. He’s a perfect pivot for a team looking for an elite #2 C.
For a team like Carolina, which has one of the better prospect pools in the NHL, selecting a player who could quickly come in and play behind Sebastian Aho and boast a tremendous 200-ft game is an absolute no-brainer.
14. Edmonton Oilers: Rodion Amirov -LW – 6’, 167 lbs
After using the draft to shore up their defense the last few years, the Edmonton Oilers have a clear mission in mind, and that is to add to their secondary scoring, especially on the left side. They would need a winger with speed, skills and a desire to go into the dirty areas. Rodion Amirov fits that description like a glove!
Amirov is a little bit of an under-the-radar player at the moment, as he didn’t get the prime visibility that other draft prospects got at the World Junior Championship, but, rest assured, he is a great value to have at the 14th selection for any team. Perhaps some may feel like Seth Jarvis would be the pick here, but I believe that the Oilers have a very similar player in Kailer Yamamoto and would likely push for a high-end talent that could bring a different aspect to their top-6.
Rodion Amirov might end up being my favourite pick on draft day.— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) July 14, 2020
No size or speed concerns, strong in transition, good curl & drag wrist shot, hunts down loose pucks, and he sees the ice well. Such a well-rounded player.
I think he’s bound to be a solid top-six winger. pic.twitter.com/gqe6o1H1hg
The best way one could characterize his game would be to call Amirov a puck-hound, as he is in constant pursuit of the puck and uses his great skating and long-strides to effectively neutralize his opponents and strip them of the puck. Amirov also possesses a very good set of hands to go with very strong skating. He can beat you 1-on-1 along the boards or in the middle of the offensive zone and deke goaltenders out of their pants if given the space.
Here’s an 11:30 thought:— Will Scouch (@Scouching) April 28, 2020
Did we all just, forget about Rodion Amirov?
Spoiler alert, but his report is getting filmed tomorrow. Tracked four KHL games, two MHL games, and a VHL playoff game. pic.twitter.com/Mz2bmzmcW2
One thing to like about Amirov’s game is how he creates space for himself using solid puck-protection skills and his great hands. He can fit anywhere in a top-6 and has the upside to really excel as the games get tighter. In my viewings of Amirov I always came away with an Alexander Radulov vibe, as they share the same key characteristics in their game, albeit Radulov possesses a harder shot and bigger build. If all goes well and Amirov comes over to North America, he’ll bring his work ethic and bulldog-style and his electric offensive talents with him.
15. Toronto Maple Leafs (via Penguins) : RD Braden Schneider 6’2, 202 lbs
With Toronto acquiring this pick in the Kasperi Kapanen trade to Pittsburgh, the most obvious pick for them (being as deep as they are at forward) is Braden Schneider. The physical, rugged, mobile RD that have been asking Dubas to select for years.
Schneider would bring a lot of what the Leafs are lacking on the back-end. A high-tempo, physical and punishing game. The sturdy rearguard could easily come in and stabilize a competitive top-4 in the NHL. He is solid in transition, tracks the puck well in the defensive zone and is great at clearing the garbage in front of the net. Schneider is one of the most physically mature players in this draft ( 6’2 202 lbs at last count) and would likely be able to transition to the NHL quicker than some players do to his physical nature, which is an attractive notion for Leafs fans.
Braden Schneider crushes Maxim Groshev, who lands awkwardly and needs to be helped off the ice by a trainer pic.twitter.com/ienA3zXpAY— 🤸🏻♀️Lauren Kelly🏌🏻♀️ (@laurkelly24) November 15, 2019
Where I believe Schneider thrives is on the transition from D-zone to O-Zone, as his first pass is excellent, and he’s not shy to carry the puck out himself. His side and strength make him very hard to push off the puck, while his mobility helps him attack open lanes in the neutral zone with ease.
His decision making is questioned by many, but most defensemen at this age are ripe with brain farts to begin with, and only get better with proper coaching (so shouldn’t be a problem with Keefe). Another very underrated aspect of his game is his clearing of the crease. He is very apt to establish position in front of his goaltender and inhibit opposing players from entering the blue paint or approaching the goalie. He is quickly able to establish inside position, use his low centre of gravity to absorb an initial check, and then pushes off the opposing forward to the outside. A very attractive aspect of his game I believe Leafs fans would like to have more of on their backend.
However, Schneider is not just a physical defensive specimen; he has offensive tools that are noteworthy, most certainly his passing game. Schneider is very good at zone exits via pass, as his tape-to-tape passes seemed to find his teammates without fail this season. Furthermore, he has a very underrated wrist shot that seems to have eyes in traffic. He can easily man the Leafs 2nd PP wave down the road due to his offensive tools, though I do not believe he will be a QB per say.
In my estimation, Schneider is a good value pick here for the Leafs and could serve to really round out their defensive core, as they have heavily invested term and money with their top-6 forwards. RD is one of the hardest positions to trade for in the NHL, and Dubas essentially trades Kapanen for Schneider; an excellent example of asset management.