What If New Jersey Devils Drafted Yaroslav Askarov Instead of Alexander Holtz?

The New Jersey Devils have been on a decade-long odyssey to find their next franchise goalie, but what would have happened if they had not passed up their best chance to find one in 2020?

2020 NHL Draft - Round One
2020 NHL Draft - Round One / Mike Stobe/GettyImages
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The 2020 NHL Draft Would Have Looked Different

If the Devils took Askarov with the seventh pick, it would have sent the first round careening in a different direction. The Sabres, who wanted a scoring winger, likely would’ve taken Holtz over Jack Quinn with the next pick.

This would’ve caused Quinn to tumble out of the top 10. Nashville, now without Askarov, may instead look to take a center in Anton Lundell, or… Dawson Mercer, a player that certainly fits former Predators GM David Poile’s draft modus operandi to a tee. Mercer is the kind of gritty two-way player Nashville has always prioritized, and so they take him with the 11th pick in this alternate universe. 

Florida likely breaks Quinn’s fall at 12, sending Lundell tumbling. The Devils two picks at 18 and 20 are thrown in a blender with Mercer off the board. So, with everyone being shifted down, let’s draft Braden Schneider, who was taken at 19, for the Devils. With the 20th overall pick, they might take a now-fallen Lukas Reichel.

The other wrinkle of drafting Askarov at 7 is that the Devils don’t likely use another pick on a goalie in the 2020 Draft, which means they don’t select Nico Daws in the third round (84th pick). Let’s instead for fun draft them the next NHL player taken, Justin Sourdif (87th pick).

While the draft implications are substantial, the even bigger impact is felt in the years to come, as the next several years of the Devils franchise and NHL history are altered incredibly by this single decision.