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Ilya Samsonov wants a long-term contract, it’s not likely coming from the Maple Leafs

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Photo credit:Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
1 month ago
After playing the past three seasons on one-year contracts, Ilya Samsonov wants a long-term deal this summer. This isn’t something the Toronto Maple Leafs are likely interested in.
Samsonov is a pending unrestricted free agent come July 1 and during the end of the season media availability on Monday, the Russian netminder had a lot to say. He’s been very candid with the media during his two seasons in Toronto and it’s obvious the ups and downs of the regular season and the tough playoff loss have taken a toll on him. Here are some highlights from Samsonov’s presser:
– “I don’t remember a time I felt like sh** like right now.”
– “I love this city, love everybody on this team.”
– “I need to play better. It’s not about a defenseman or a power play, or whatever is going on, but I need to be better for this team and in this series.”
– “You know, it’s probably the biggest part…The last few  years, working with one-year contract, it’s not too easy for me, you know like, you think about it. It doesn’t matter you’re still human, it doesn’t matter about your confidence level, or something, you do still think about this. Yeah, I think we will be, yeah, I want to get more stability, so a couple years or a three-year contract, yeah.”
Unfortunately for Samsonov, with the major changes coming to the Maple Leafs for next season, Brad Treliving is likely going to look to upgrade his goaltending depth. The chances are extremely thin that the team will give Samsonov a three-year contract offer before the opening of free agency. Joseph Woll has one season remaining on his deal before he becomes a restricted free agent and with Woll making just $766,667 against the salary cap, he’s not going anywhere. Treliving’s likely going the trade route to find Woll a new partner.

Samsonov’s Season Was a Roller Coaster

The Maple Leafs went through the wringer with Samsonov this season. Here’s a breakdown of the goaltender’s performance per month:
MonthRecordGoals Against AverageSave Percentage
October2-1-13.99.841
November2-0-23.18.905
December1-1-34.64.828
January3-1-01.48.939
February6-2-03.01.888
March6-1-12.34.926
April3-1-13.80.865
Stanley Cup Playoffs1-33.01.896
Samsonov posted career highs in 2022-23, so there were high expectations for the former first-round pick of the Washington Capitals heading into this season. After struggling immensely in December, the Maple Leafs started 2024 by waiving Samsonov. He wasn’t claimed by any team in the league and started his ‘reset’, working with goaltending coach Curtis Sanford and spending some time away from the rink for a couple of weeks with some visiting family from Russia. It was the mental break he needed to get back on track but unfortunately, he was never able to find the consistency Toronto needed throughout the entire season and more importantly, into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
While Samsonov stood on his head for stretches of the regular season and even throughout a few games against the Boston Bruins in the first round, he had a tendency to let in soft back-breaking goals which totally killed all the Maple Leafs’ momentum. This Game 3 goal to Trent Frederic stands out from the first-round series. The Maple Leafs had done well to earn a split in the first two games in Boston, they went home with a chance to go up in the series, score the opening goal of Game 3 over halfway through the game, and just over four minutes later, Samsonov gets beat low-blocker from distance:
Samsonov wasn’t good enough when his team needed him the most. While he showed resiliency and battled himself back into the starter’s crease for the Maple Leafs, he shouldn’t be in their plans heading into next season and it’s quite likely Treliving has already moved on in his mind.
The pending free-agent netminder will land on his feet, there’s no doubt about it. The goalie market is very thin this summer and Samsonov may actually be the best available if you take into consideration the results from the past two seasons collectively. The Los Angeles Kings should have some interest. The same can be said for the New Jersey Devils and with the goalie trade market likely to be hot and bothered at the NHL Draft this summer, once the chips fall where they may, Samsonov could be on the radar of the Nashville Predators, Ottawa Senators or Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Maple Leafs, on the other hand, need to walk away. They’ve been outperformed in the crease year after year in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it’s time for Treliving to make a splash and find some elite talent.

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