Ilya Samsonov and the Maple Leafs have filed their arbitration numbers according to Elliotte Friedman

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
9 months ago
It’s incredibly rare in the NHL for a player and team to actually reach the salary arbitration process. In some cases arbitration is just a farce to open up the second contract buyout window or to avoid the threat of an offer sheet, and in other cases players and GMs will finalize their deals moments before they are scheduled to walk into the hearing. The Leafs and Samsonov have taken one step closer to being one of those rare cases that gets heard and today the arbitration numbers have been reported from Elliotte Friedman:
So the cynic (realist) is going to say that they’ll split it down the middle and agree to a $3.65M deal. There is a very good chance it plays out that way. The Maple Leafs broke with the hostile tradition of most NHL teams and offered Samsonov above what his qualifying offer would have been. Samsonov’s number also seems to be negotiated down a bit in advance. Based on a .919 save percentage season, his age, and some unfortunate comparable contracts around the league he could have pushed things higher.
Both the Leafs number and Samsonov’s numbers are also based on one year contracts and that would be the max term that could be awarded in arbitration given that Samsonov is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. A likely reason for the Maple Leafs and Samsonov not just simply splitting the difference at this point is that one side is likely still holding out for some term. Either Samsonov for job security, or the Leafs hoping to lock in a younger goaltender at a team friendly rate.
Samsonov’s hearing is slated for July 21st (Friday), and the decision would be determined within 48 hours. Given the contract asks, any decision that comes from it would be binding and neither the Leafs or Samsonov would have the opportunity to walk away.
The conclusion of the Samsonov situation also opens the second buyout window of the summer for the Maple Leafs and it is highly likely that the Leafs will be taking advantage of that by buying out Matt Murray. The buyout window would open 48 hours after the Samsonov contract is resolved and the Leafs will have three days to act.
The Murray buyout would cost the Leafs $687,500 this season as opposed to his $4,687,500 cap hit if he remained on the roster. He will also be $2,000,000 of dead cap space for the Leafs next season which is the barrier that prevented him being bought out in the first window.
With a Murray Buyout, Jake Muzzin on the LTIR, and the Leafs having a 21 player roster their cap situation would be as follows based on the potential Samsonov contract values:
Samsonov @ $2.6M: Over the salary cap by $210k
Samsonov @ $4.9M: Over the salary cap by $2.41M
Samsonov @ $3.65M Over the salary cap by $1.26M
The Leafs don’t have to be in compliance until the opening day of the NHL season and can exceed the salary cap by 10% ($8.35M) in the offseason. The Leafs can likely address any Samsonov contract up to $3.5M/yr without much concern and could simply run with a 20 player roster to start, but if the cap hit is $4M+ the Leafs might need to make a move out of necessity.
While we now have the arbitration numbers, it does seem far more likely that we see the Samsonov contract finalized in the next 48 hours. It’s unlikely that neither side wants to ruin their summer with mediation.

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