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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Leafs sign Samsonov to a one year, $1.8M deal

As initially reported by Arthur Staple of The Athletic, Ilya Samsonov is a Leaf and the Leafs have two NHL goaltenders for the 2022-23 season.

The contract is a bit of a steal for the Leafs and has to make us feel pretty damned good. It’s less than we expected the Leafs to spend, but the idea of Toronto investing in goal on finding out if either one or both of Murray and Samsonov can be their answer in net makes a ton of sense.

Here’s what we know about Samsonov:

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SEASON GP W SV% GAA SO SA SV QS% RBS GA%- GSAA ADJGAA
2019-20 26 16 0.913 2.55 1 689 629 0.591 2 96 2.3 2.72
2020-21 19 13 0.902 2.69 2 499 450 0.389 3 107 -3 2.96
2021-22 44 23 0.896 3.02 3 1145 1026 0.333 8 112 -12.5 3.1
CAREER 89 52 0.902 2.81 6 2333 2105 0.418 13 106 -13.6 2.96

By comparison to his team performance, Samsonov’s numbers are pretty much on track. No one has been dragging him down, in fact he seems he made things a little tougher on the Capitals.

Here are the rest of the numbers on Samsonov:

GP XGA GSAE GSAE/60 SVAE WAR HDSV% XHDSV% HDSVAE
44 106.94 -12.1 -0.307 -0.006 -2.01 0.676 0.705 -0.029

These numbers don’t really inspire a lot of confidence. The confidence in Samsonov comes from draft pedigree, being a top prospect, and knowing that it often that 25-28 year range where goaltenders start coming into their own. Perhaps a change of scenery, a goaltender who played in Russia and knows Russian goaltenders, and a coach that worked under the goaltending coach that developed Sergei Bobrovsky might be what is leading to the Samsonov selection. If the Leafs took Matt Murray for Jon Elkin, it seems like they took Ilya Samsonov because they think he’s the right fit for Curtis Sanford.

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From what I said a couple of days ago about Samsonov:

By the numbers, Samsonov doesn’t look like an enticing option, at least for the 2022-23 season, but there is something to be said for what comes beyond that. If he takes a step in the positive direction at all, and one can assume that it’s entirely possible, Samsonov could be the better long term solution while Murray serves as the best short term option. The fact that Samsonov has been able to get into more games than Murray as provides a bit of a safety net for that tandem, and if I’m to set the lowest possible bar, the Capitals managed to be a playoff team with Samsonov in net, surely the Leafs can as well.

None of this is a ringing endorsement for Samsonov, nor has there been too ringing an endorsement for Murray, but both represent attempts at finding something that can move the bar on the Leafs goal situation. And at the very least, perhaps the availability of Samsonov moves the bar on the Murray trade to be a bit more favourable to the Leafs now that there is another option.

The Leafs cap space certainly didn’t take the hit we expected, but with the 10% cap overage allowed over the summer, there isn’t any reason to stress the situation just yet anyway, and we’ll see how Kyle Dubas deals with the rest of his to-do list. Apparently, he’ll have more money to work with than we initially thought, roughly $5.3M to sign Sandin, Engvall, and two other forwards.

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