Ilya Samsonov To Make NHL Debut In Capitals’ Game On Friday

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Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden told the media that goaltender Ilya Samsonov, who will be the team’s backup goaltender this season, will make his NHL debut on Friday night when the team visits the New York Islanders (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington).

The Capitals announced on Wednesday that Samsonov made the opening night roster and they placed last year’s backup, Pheonix Copley, on waivers.

Samsonov, 22, was projected as the Capitals’ top prospect by many. He went 19-14-5 with a 2.74 goals-against average and a .896 save percentage in 36 games with the AHL’s Hershey Bears last season in his first season in North America but ended the season strong. Samsonov posted a .925 save percentage or higher in each of his final three seasons in the KHL, including a .936 save percentage in 2016-17.

The Capitals drafted Samsonov 22nd overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.

With Samsonov starting against the Islanders, starter Braden Holtby will likely get the nod when the Capitals host the Carolina Hurricanes in their home opener on Saturday night (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington).

In two preseason games in September, Samsonov allowed three goals on 32 shots (.906 save percentage).

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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5 Responses to Ilya Samsonov To Make NHL Debut In Capitals’ Game On Friday

  1. Day One Caps Fan says:

    Pheonix Copley seems continually to be described by DC-area sports media as a permanent “Backup Goaltender” who has a ceiling only as an “NHL Backup.” Yep — Day One thinks that is hogwash. Copley is absolutely Starting Goalie material. Physically, his skill, durability, professional demeanor — not to mention his won-lost record — all a starting NHL Goalie and not a career backup. I can hear the boos and catcalls already from the “comments” section.

    No “career backup” goes 16-7 against NHL competition in any season. Copley accomplished that record during a Caps “off year” when the whole team was out of synch and tired from the short summer and Stanley Cup hangover. Pheonix had a bad game or two and the TV commentators and sports press went wild: “There’s that career backup goalie Copley again!”

    But the Caps’ coaching staff and GM just made the same evaluation: The Caps can’t carry two Number One goalies, and that’s what Holtby and Copley were. Copley is better than at least a dozen NHL starting goaltenders from last season. If he goes unclaimed from waivers, some NHL team will regret missing the opportunity.

    In fact, I think that only Don Beaupre, Olaf Kolzig, Braden Holtby, and Jim Carey were Caps’ goalies who were more talented than Copley. One day Copley will be a starter on another NHL team. He will be a winner and start in playoff games.

    In the meantime, Let’s Go Sammy! QED

  2. Anonymous says:

    A new day dawns….

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