The top 25 under 25 rolls along with this afternoon’s prospect at #20, Ilya Konovalov.
Goaltender Ilya Konovalov had a season filled with accolades while tending net for the KHL’s Yaroslavl Lokamotiv. Let’s take a look where our panel had Konovalov in their rankings.
Konovalov was drafted in the third round of this year’s NHL draft at 85th overall. Currently signed with his hometown Yaroslavl (KHL), Konovalov put up solid numbers in the 2018-19 season. His .930 SV% tied him for fifth best in the league among goaltenders who played in 40 or more games. He picked up several individual accolades, including the rookie of the week five times, rookie of the month twice, and the goaltender of the month (January 2019). Konovalov won the Alexei Cherepanov award at the end of the year for rookie of the year. In other words, things went well in Konovalov’s first full season.
WHY KONOVALOV WAS RANKED 20th OVERALL
Konovalov’s numbers aren’t completely surprising considering he’s put up strong stats at every level that he’s played at but likely didn’t garner enough attention sooner due to bouncing around to different leagues the past couple seasons. At six feet tall, he doesn’t have the size that most NHL teams covet in a goalie but his performance this season undeniable. Konovalov has two years left on his current contract in the KHL.
The second goaltender in our top 25 (Olivier Rodrigue, 25th), the 21 year old Konovalov would not likely have been on Edmonton’s radar had he not flourished in the injury absence of starter Alexander Salak. Konovalov took the reins and hasn’t looked back. Konovalov is quick on his feet, moving effortlessly from post to post. His glove is very good, and his ability to read through traffic will no doubt come in handy once he transitions his game to North America.
He’s got two more years in Yaroslavl before he looks to make the jump to the NHL, and two more years like the last one would help to give Konovalov a leg up as he sets his sights on the next level of competition.
THE NEAR FUTURE
Konovalov had an excellent 2018-19, but he’ll be asked to turn in a similar performance in the upcoming season. If he can continue to provide excellent numbers through his next two years, it will be a near ideal situation as the then-23 year old will have several seasons under his belt as he transitions to the North American game.