After the Washington Capitals did not qualify restricted free agent goaltender Ilya Samsonov on Monday, which made him an unrestricted free agent, the 25-year-old signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.
Hearing Ilya Samsonov is headed to TOR
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) July 13, 2022
Samsonov, who required a $2.2 million cap hit on his qualifying offer (110% of his $2 million cap hit last season to be retained by the Capitals, finished the 2021-22 regular season 23-12-5 with an .896 save percentage, a 3.02 goals-against average, and three shutouts, despite an 11-1-1 start where he posted a .916 save percentage, a 2.42 goals-against average, and three shutouts through December 9.
The Capitals’ 22nd overall pick in 2015’s NHL career got off to a strong start in 2019-20 as he went 15-2-1 with a .927 save percentage and a 2.06 goals-against average through the NHL All-Star Break. However, things fell off from there as he went 1-4-1 with an .873 save percentage and a 4.11 goals-against average after the All-Star break. He missed the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs after an ATV accident during the NHL Pause.
In 2020-21, Samsonov got COVID-19 a week into the season and finished the year with a 13-4-1 record, .902 save percentage, a 2.69 goals-against average, and two shutouts. He started the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs on COVID-19 protocol again before going 1-2 with an .899 save percentage and 2.99 goals-against average in the last three games, which included two very careless goals-against in overtime and an elimination game, of the tournament.
Samsonov finished this past season as the Capitals’ starter after Vitek Vanecek was pulled after five periods in the first round against the Florida Panthers. He posted a .912 save percentage and 2.97 goals-against average in the series.
The Capitals traded Vanecek to the New Jersey Devils on Friday and will enter the upcoming season with an entirely new goalie tandem.
The Maple Leafs also acquired goaltender Matt Murray from the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.
Samsonov and the Maple Leafs will host the Capitals for their opening night on Thursday, October 13. Samsonov will visit Capital One Arena for the first time as a Maple Leaf on Saturday, December 17.
By Harrison Brown