Ilya Konovalov was an over-ager taken by the Oilers in the third round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Before we get too far, let’s check out where our panel had Konovalov ranked in this year’s Top 25 Under 25:
Ilya Konovalov is the third goaltender in four days on our countdown.
Konovalov improved four spots in our Top 25, up from #20 in 2019 to #16 this season. Konovalov was born in Yaroslavl and he’s repped his hometown each year since 2013-14. A participant in the 2017-18 World Junior Championship, Konovalov is now embarking on his third full season with the Lokomotiv in the KHL. Konovalov had a dynamite 2018-19 where he finished with a .930 SV% in 45 games played (good for tenth in the league), he cooled off a bit last season where he finished with a .912 SV% in 40 games played (tied for 30th in the league).
In nine games of the 2020-21 KHL season, Konovalov looks to have picked up where his 2018-19 season left off (.927), which is good news for Oiler fans. The only reason he hasn’t played more than nine games is his goaltending partner Eddie Pasquale has been nearly unstoppable (.943 SV% in 17 GP).
I had Konovalov at 20th in my ranking, and that was partly due to his dip last season. I’d be more than happy to be wrong in that analysis, which I will be if Konovalov continues his play at his current level.
Konovalov is an interesting prospect in part because of his age; he was drafted in the third round at age 21. I get an uneasy feeling when the club ventures out to take an over-ager that isn’t in the sixth or seventh round, but that’s tempered a bit when it’s a goaltender. I also was surprised that the Oilers selected a goaltender due to the sheer number of how may are already in the system. The club took Olivier Rodrigue in the second round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, you can imagine how I was a bit surprised that they selected another goaltender in the third round of 2019
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE OILERS?
While discussing Stuart Skinner a few days ago (19th in our Top 25 Under 25), I had mentioned that the pipeline is rife with goaltenders who may appear in Bakersfield in the next year or so. Skinner will get a chance this year, as will Dylan Wells and Anton Forsberg. It’s quite possible that Ilya Konovalov’s name will be on that list come fall 2021.
If Ilya Konovalov turns in a season similar to what we saw in 2018-19, the Oilers could hustle to get a deal done. Rodrigue has a new ELC, Stuart Skinner and Dylan Wells are both in contract years. Newly signed Anton Forsberg has a one year deal. If the Oilers like what they see at the end of this KHL season, it could bode very well for Konovalov.
Depending on how it all shakes up, both Rodrigue and Konovalov could be in Bakersfield in 2021-22.