Edmonton Oilers prospect G Ilya Konovalov has been named to the KHL All-star game taking place later in January.
The 21-year-old was drafted by the Oilers in the third round of this year’s entry draft.
The young netminder has been the starting goaltender for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, who was coached by Craig MacTavish before he was canned a mere eight games into the season.
Konovalov, who had the third-most fan votes for his division, has played in 31 games for the club posting nine wins and 15 losses. He has a .908 save percentage and a 2.55 GAA to go along with it.
He will replace Jonas Enroth who had terminated his contract with the KHL’s Dinamo Minsk.
While Konovalov’s numbers have dropped off from his draft year (45 GP — 25-15, .930 sv%, 1.89 GAA), Lokomotiv as a club has dropped off from last year too. Through the club’s first 42 games this year, they hold a 23-17-1 record good enough for seventh in their conference with a +2 goal differential. Last year, they were second in their division with a 40-16-6 record and a +41 goal differential. Quite a difference.
Konovalov was given the rookie of the year award last season, along with numerous weekly and monthly awards. It’s a clear sign there some talent there and given his high draft status, Edmonton clearly likes him as a prospect moving forward.
That rookie of the year award, mind you, was the first dished out to a goalie since Andrei Vasilevsky — someone we all know as a top goalie in the NHL.
I spent some time last night digging around trying to find anything of substance on Konovalov, before I stumbled on an article from what appears to be a Russian sports site leading into the draft.
Google translate can be fairly fickle, but I grabbed a few quotes that should give you a bit of an idea just how he had been viewed entering the draft in Russia.
Konovalov is one of the best goalkeepers in the draft of 2019, and it is obvious that he is ready to play in the National Hockey League… Konovalov is a highly qualified goalkeeper with enormous potential… …His statistical indicators at the age of 20 are comparable to those achieved by the best Russian goalkeepers, such as Ilya Samsonov, Ilya Sorokin, Sergey Bobrovsky, and many others… Clubs that are looking for an opportunity to strengthen the formed goalkeeper with a ton of potential should not lose sight of Ilya Konovalov…
While Samsonov is still a young goalie with the Washington Captials, he’s posted a 10-2-1 record with a .918 save percentage in his rookie season this year. In 73 KHL games, he went 33-16-9 with a .929 save percentage.
There’s talk Sorokin is looking to make a jump to the NHL soon. The 24-year-old has been playing in the KHL for parts of a whopping eight seasons — 295 games, to be exact. He’s posted a .931 save percentage and a 1.64 GAA.
Bobrovsky, meanwhile, played three seasons, and 91 games, in the KHL before jumping to the NHL. There, he posted a .925 save percentage and a 2.43 GAA.
When Bobrovsky first came to the NHL, he did so being signed as a free agent by the Philadelphia Flyers. His KHL season before saw him post a 9-22-3 record with a .919 save percentage and a 2.72 GAA. So those numbers alone are fairly similar to what we saw from Konovalov ahead of being drafted.
Bobrovsky was traded to the Blue Jackets in 2012, and the rest is history as he went on to be one of the better goaltenders of the decade.
Konovalov is going to be a really interesting prospect to follow over the next few seasons.
On Twitter: @zjlaing