The Washington Capitals have a verbal commitment with prospect goaltender Ilya Samsonov, KHL Insider Aivis Kalniņš reported Tuesday. This came while Capitals’ GM Brian MacLellan was in Russia talking to the 20-year old goaltender. Samsonov will likely sign with the Capitals prior to next season, though Samsonov could sign as early as April 30 and report to Hershey.
As per source Ilya Samsonov and Washington Capitals have a verbal agreement, goalie expected to sign his entry-level deal in time for next season.
— Aivis Kalniņš (@A_Kalnins) December 12, 2017
The Capitals drafted Samsonov 22nd overall in 2015, the season after he won MVP of the World Jr. Championships. He had 2.67 goals against average and a .934 save percentage in six games during the tournament.
In 17 games with the KHL’s Magnitka this season, Samsonov has a 2.87 goals against average and a .909 save percentage after recording a 2.13 goals against average and a .936 save percentage last year. Samsonov has already been injured twice this season.
He will likely start out in Hershey for a conditioning stint before coming up to the Capitals. Braden Holtby is signed for three more seasons, Philipp Grubauer can become a restricted free agent this offseason, and the Capitals already have Pheonix Copley in the pipeline in Hershey.
The Capitals will hold development camp around late June/early July so Samsonov could make his D.C. debut then.
If Samsonov signs another KHL contract before reaching an agreement with Washington, the Capitals will no longer have his rights. The Capitals had the same kind of issues with Evgeny Kuznetsov a few years ago. The Capitals drafted Kuznetsov 26th overall in 2010 and he didn’t sign with the Capitals until 2014.
Samsonov is arguably the best goaltender prospect and this is great news for the Capitals.
By Harrison Brown