3 Potential free-agent destinations for Ilya Samsonov

Photo credit:© Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
1 month ago
Ilya Samsonov likely has a change of scenery coming this summer.
The Maple Leafs netminder is a pending unrestricted free agent come July 1 and if the end-of-year press conference was any indication, it certainly sounds like GM Brad Treliving has already moved on. Treliving made a point to comment on his belief in Joseph Woll and how the team’s focus will be on the 25-year-old goalie starting a proper training regime to limit injuries for next season. Meanwhile, all that was said about Samsonov was that his contract was up.
Up, indeed. Look for Treliving to scour the trade market and find Woll a new partner for next season as Toronto looks to make several upgrades this summer. Meanwhile, it will be an interesting offseason for Samsonov as he’s one of the best goalies available on the free-agent market.
There’s going to be a ton of interest in the former first-round pick, here’s three potential free-agent destinations for Samsonov this summer:

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings are a team to watch as both Cam Talbot and David Rittich are pending free agents and GM Rob Blake will be looking to find himself a 1-A starter over using a tandem approach. Blake tried to acquire Linus Ullmark from the Boston Bruins before the trade deadline and Ullmark wanted no part of leaving Boston. The veteran GM could turn his attention to Samsonov this summer.
LA has $20.9 million in cap space to work with, which should give Blake enough resources to make a significant move in net. Samsonov made $3.55 million this season and on a long-term contract, could be looking for around $4-4.5 million AAV.
At 27 years old, Samsonov is still in the prime of his career and after going through a crazy year of ups, downs and in between, playing in a quieter hockey market could do him wonders. The Kings also play a very defensive 1-3-1 system which takes a lot of flack in the media, meanwhile, as a goaltender, it’s a dream. What a change this could be for Samsonov who has gotten used to playing behind a run-and-gun Leafs’ squad.
LA ranked 3rd in the league in goals against per game and having Samsonov in the mix next season could help them attain this type of stinginess. Regardless if it’s Samsonov or not, look for Blake to move on from both Talbot and Rittich after neither could give the team a save in the first-round playoff series against the Edmonton Oilers, combining for a .862 Sv.%.

New Jersey Devils

What a turn of events this offseason could bring if Sheldon Keefe is hired in New Jersey and Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald follows it up and signs Samsonov to tandem with Jake Allen.
Fitzgerald is going to be aggressive this summer and has admitted recently he’s going big-game hunting with the $19.9 million in cap space he has to work with. Is Samsonov the type of big fish Fitzgerald has in mind?
The Devils were close to acquiring Jacob Markstrom from the Calgary Flames before the trade deadline and the deal apparently fell apart over a salary retention mix-up, so we know Fitzgerald has upgrading in net on his mind. Signing Samsonov could give New Jersey a solid 1-2 punch alongside Allen. While neither is necessarily an elite netminder, they both have experience sharing the workload but also getting a leash if they heat up. It feels like this is a duo that could work well together based on their experience and their personalities.
Despite the struggles to find consistency throughout the first three months of the season, Samsonov managed to post an impressive 23-7-8 record along with a 3.13 GAA. For comparison sake, the Devils leader in wins was Vitek Vanecek with 17 and he’s now playing in San Jose. The Devils need some help, Samsonov will be on their radar.

Nashville Predators

There’s a lot of speculation brewing that the Predators are going to receive a trade offer for Juuse Saros that they can’t refuse. Trade talks continued throughout this past season but ended up fading off just before the March 9 trade deadline. With some holes up front, GM Barry Trotz could help find an impact top-line forward in exchange for Saros, so expect to see the trade winds blow until a contract extension kills the noise.
If Saros is moved, Yaroslav Askarov, the Preds’ top prospect will be one of their two goalies next season, the other could potentially be a Russian counterpart in Samsonov. Saros is set to make $5 million next season, he doesn’t have any trade protection and can be moved at will. Meanwhile, Samsonov’s likely to come in around $4-4.5 million on a three-year deal, which could work financially in Nashville.
The Preds have $19.2 million in cap space to work so Trotz will have a ton of flexibility heading into the summer. Nashville surprised a lot of people by making the playoffs, thanks to bailing on a U2 concert, but in all seriousness, they will be very interesting to watch as moving Saros could land a game-changer up front. If this domino falls, Samsonov makes a ton of sense as a tandem partner for Askarov as he’s a veteran presence, who can help mentor the 21-year-old, who also happens to hail from Russia. Sounds like a recipe for success.
The Predators, Devils and Kings could be three teams in conversations with Samsonov once free agency begins in July. He wants a long-term contract to provide stability for his family after what’s been a roller coaster of emotions playing three straight seasons on one-year contracts. Hopefully, Samsonov’s wish is granted, signing a three-year deal and then bouncing back in a major way. It just won’t be with the Maple Leafs.

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