We’ve featured three goaltending prospects so far in this year’s Top 25 with Olivier Rodrigue, Stuart Skinner, and now Ilya Konovalov. Konovalov is the highest ranked goaltender in this year’s Top 25 under 25, checking in at number 7 in our poll. Let’s see how the readers voted.
|2021 C&B Staff Rank||2021 C&B Reader Rank|
Readers weren’t quite as bullish on Konovalov as we were, slotting him in at 11th overall. Konovalov vaults from the 16th position in our last rank to number 7 today. Another solid year could see him in top 5 territory next time around.
If you haven’t yet taken notice of Konovalov, there’s no greater time to get acquainted with Ilya Konovalov than right now. With training camp starting up, there’s a very good chance that we’ll get to see Ilya Konovalov start a preseason game between now and when the season starts in just under three weeks. If things break a certain way in 2021-22, we might see more of him than we originally have thought.
A third round selection in the 2019 Entry Draft, the Yaroslavl-born Konovalov has impressed at nearly every turn of his young career. Konovalov wasn’t drafted until he was nearly 21 years of age, when up to that point he’d turned in some impressive numbers with Loko of Russia’s MHL and had one year of service with Lokomotiv-Yaroslavl of the KHL. In 2019-20 I had noted his numbers took a dip, (he finished with a .912 SV% in 40 games played in the 2019-20 KHL season), but he bounced back last season with a .923 SV% in 19 games. Why only 19 games? The other man in Lokomotiv’s net was former Thrashers draft pick Ed Pasquale, and he went streaking. By October, Pasquale had vaulted into the starter’s spot as he was carrying a .950 SV% midway through the month. While that’s mammoth, .923 isn’t anything to sneeze at. .923 would be good for 14th in the league, a definite jump from the previous year. Pasquale would cool off, he and Konovalov would finish with nearly identical SV% by season’s end.
We know that goaltenders develop on a different curve than skaters) Konovalov is continuing his climb. He signed a two year deal with the Oilers in early May, and he’s in Edmonton for camp as we speak.
With Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen on the NHL roster today, the Condors’ net will likely be will be full with Stuart Skinner (12 in this year’s T25 rankings) and Ilya Konovalov. While Skinner got himself into an NHL game last season when the goaltender carrousel was spinning wildly due in part to the wacky waiver rules set forth.
With Oilers GM Ken Holland announcing that Alex Stalock will not play in 2021-22 due to a heart condition, there’s a very good chance that Konovalov could be a call up in the event of an injury or if things otherwise go sideways.
For now, enjoy the season ahead. Konovalov should play a lot in Bakersfield in 2021-22. If he passes the test, his next stop could be the show.