The Calgary Flames have signed prospect Ilya Solovyov to a three-year entry-level contract according to his agent Dan Milstein of Gold Star Hockey. Solovyov recently finished his KHL season with Dinamo Minsk. Milstein did not clarify whether or not the contract starts this season or in 2021-22, or whether Solovyov will be joining the AHL down the stretch like many other recently-signed prospects. The Flames release, which came a few minutes later, also does not clarify, but PuckPedia reports that the deal will start in 2021-22 and carry an average annual value of $828K.
The 20-year-old defenseman was a seventh-round pick in 2020, his third year of draft eligibility. It took an impressive season with the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL for the scouts to take notice, as previously the Belarusian defenseman had gone undrafted. In 53 games last year with Saginaw, he recorded 40 points while finishing ninth in the entire league with a +43 rating.
If you’re a Calgary fan looking for a late-round pick to dream on, the 6’3″ Solovyov may be the one to choose, after he stepped directly into the KHL and secured a regular spot on the Dinamo blueline. In 41 games he had just nine points but managed to average nearly 17 minutes a night as a 20-year-old rookie, not an easy task in the veteran-heavy KHL. In five playoff games, that ice time increased to more than 19 minutes a night, another strong indication of how far Solovyov’s game has come in the last few years.
There’s certainly work to be done, but a draft class that was bookended by Connor Zary (24th overall) and Solovyov (205th) already looks like a win for the Flames. If the young defenseman can even sniff the NHL, he’ll have already outplayed his draft position.