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Ilya Samsonov does the Maple Leafs a favour and files for salary arbitration

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
9 months ago
Today was the deadline for player elected salary arbitration. It was an important day for the Leafs because if Ilya Samsonov opted to go this route (most arbitration eligible restricted free agents do) it would have the potential to benefit the Leafs as much or more than it would be beneficial to Samsonov.
As per the NHLPA, Samsonov is in fact on the list of players slated for arbitration hearings:
TORONTO (July 5, 2023)  The National Hockey League Players’ Association announced that 22 players have elected salary arbitration:
Morgan Barron (Winnipeg Jets)
Will Borgen (Seattle Kraken)
Noah Cates (Philadelphia Flyers)
Ross Colton (Colorado Avalanche)
Brandon Duhaime (Minnesota Wild)
Vince Dunn (Seattle Kraken)
Cale Fleury (Seattle Kraken)
Trent Frederic (Boston Bruins)
Filip Gustavsson (Minnesota Wild)
Brett Howden (Vegas Golden Knights)
Tanner Jeannot (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Philipp Kurashev (Chicago Blackhawks)
Jack McBain (Arizona Coyotes)
Ryan McLeod (Edmonton Oilers)
Ian Mitchell (Boston Bruins)
Drew O’Connor (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Ilya Samsonov (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Brandon Scanlin (New York Rangers)
Jeremy Swayman (Boston Bruins)
Troy Terry (Anaheim Ducks)
Alexei Toropchenko (St. Louis Blues)
Gabriel Vilardi (Winnipeg Jets)
The deadline for the second club-elected salary arbitration notification is July 6 at 5 p.m. ET. Salary arbitration hearings will be held from July 20 to Aug. 4.
As you can see from the press release, no arbitration date has been set for any player and it is unlikely that the Samsonov and the Leafs actually get to that point.
The benefit to Samsonov in this process is that arbitration almost certainly guarantees him a raise. Also, if Samsonov’s ultimate goal is to hit unrestricted free agency sooner rather than later, this puts him in a position to get a one year deal and the chance to come back with a lot more leverage in the next go around, assuming his next season goes as well as the present one. If the Leafs are wanting to give him term, the threat of him going one and done might help him as well.
From the Leafs perspective there are benefits to this as well. The primary advantage here is that Toronto now has access to the second buyout window. If a trade can’t be found where a team will take Matt Murray off their hands, they have the buyout option and that leverage should prevent the Leafs from overpaying to rid themselves of a bad contract.
There is also the advantage for the Leafs that if they go the full arbitration route with Samsonov they can try Samsonov for one more year to see what they truly have with him and be certain if he is the .919 sv% goaltender he was last year and if he can handle an increased workload. They’ll also get to assess Joseph Woll at the same time. The price for Samsonov would likely fall in the middle of the Leafs qualifying offer and Samsonov’s ask in arbitration and that likely means getting him cheaper than a deal with term.
If Samsonov’s ultimate goal is the security of term, the Leafs threatening to wait until arbitration could give them leverage in the negotiations and that could also be beneficial.
Finally the fact that Samsonov has chosen arbitration means that offer sheets are no longer possible for Ilya, not that one has been speculated on by anyone.
We’ll likely know in the coming days when Samsonov’s hearing is scheduled for. The Leafs will be required to accept any arbitration ruling under approx. $4.5M and that is a potential risk for them. Any potential buyout can come 48 hours after the Samsonov contract is resolved.
More information on arbitration hearings and buyouts can be found on Capfriendly.

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