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Ilya Samsonov returns to the Leafs, Dennis Hildeby loaned to the Marlies

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Photo credit:© Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
1 month ago
Ilya Samsonov’s stint with the Marlies has come to an end as the Leafs opted to bring him back into the fold on Wednesday morning.
Dennis Hildeby was loaned back to the AHL squad in a corresponding move. He did not appear in a single game during his first appearance in the NHL.
Samsonov was originally placed on waivers on New Year’s Eve after struggling mightily during December. He spent the past few days away from the rink doing solo workouts and Brad Treliving spoke with reporters on Monday about how they felt he had a good week and would discuss with management the next step. Samsonov participated in a Marlies practice yesterday according to Sheldon Keefe, telling the media that it was the GM’s call if the Russian goalie would get into an AHL game or be brought back up, and he clearly chose the latter.
Treliving also made it known that he did not want to jeopardize Hildeby’s development as he felt it was important for him to spend the year in the AHL. He said the following on the Swedish netminder:
“This isn’t something where we are scared to push Dennis into anything. When you step back and look at it, Dennis had a terrific start to the year, but when you really look at the body of work, this is his first year in North America. Really, in Dennis’ case, he hasn’t played a super high level of hockey [in Europe] for an extended period of time, so I feel strongly that the best place for Dennis is where he was at, but he has also shown that he has had a really good start there.”
Circumstances forced them to bring him up but it was telling that Martin Jones got all four starts during this recent stretch which included two straight games against the league-worst Sharks. To Jones’ credit, he was exceptional allowing only three goals, recording a shutout, and winning all of them to provide the Leafs with some much-needed stability in the crease.
Samsonov may be back in the fold now, but he can’t get too complacent because Joseph Woll is not far removed from his return from injury. The starter got in some light work during the morning skate yesterday morning as he took a big step towards his recovery from a high-ankle sprain. He is so vital to the team’s success and getting him back will be a big boost.
With Jones playing well and Woll’s recovery going well, Samsonov finds himself as the third-stringer at the moment and his days in Toronto could be numbered if his struggles continue. After all, he was ranked 20th on Frank Seravalli’s trade target list and perhaps it would be for the best if he were to find a fresh start.
For now, the Russian netminder is back with the Leafs for what will surely be his last chance to re-stake his claim as an integral part of the team’s success.

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