May 3: The Oilers have officially announced the two-year contract, which will begin in the 2021-22 season.
April 30: The Edmonton Oilers are closing in on signing an impressive prospect goaltender to his entry-level contract. Sportsnet’s Mark Spector confirms the report of Russian insider Mikhail Zislis that Ilya Konovalov is expected to sign with the Oilers in the coming days. Spector notes that deal will begin next season and Konovalov is not planning to travel to North America in time to play for the organization this season.
Konovalov, 22, was an overage pick by Edmonton in the third round of the 2019 NHL Draft. While he had been passed over twice before the Oilers took a chance, Konovalov had spent those years polishing his game before emerging as a top KHL keeper in his final draft year. Despite having just seven KHL games under his belt heading into the 2018-19 season, Konovalov won the starting job for Lokomotiv Yaroslav and posted a stunning .930 save percentage, 1.89 GAA, and 25 wins in 45 games. Last year, he was again the undisputed starter for Yaroslavl and while his numbers dipped slightly, they were still impressive. Finally, this season Konovalov was limited to just 19 games but his numbers improved again to an elite level with a .923 save percentage and 2.29 GAA.
Young KHL goaltenders have found success in translating their games to the NHL of late and Konovalov could be the next in line. The Oilers could certainly use an upgrade in net and Konovalov could see some considerable NHL opportunity right away next season, especially if the Oilers don’t add to their current projected tandem of Mikko Koskinen and Alex Stalock. The cap-strapped club would also definitely benefit from Konovalov earning an NHL roster spot over the course of his affordable entry-level deal. The KHL standout will likely be given every opportunity to do just that beginning next season.