Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving isn’t trying to ‘punish’ Ilya Samsonov

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
1 month ago
Ilya Samsonov was a huge part of the Toronto Maple Leafs winning a Stanley Cup Playoff series last season after posting a career-best numbers across the board and this season the Russian netminder started the year as the Leafs’ number one goalie. It’s been a fall from grace, and after 15 appearances, Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving had no choice but to waive and demote Samsonov to the AHL, in a move that Treliving doesn’t want to be seen as a punishment.
The Leafs are looking to get Samsonov back on track and are going to put in the work to help him find his confidence. They aren’t sending him down to the Toronto Marlies to play, it’s all about practice time and resetting, which could truly be beneficial for both sides.
The Maple Leafs are able to give Martin Jones some more run in early 2024 and now have recalled top goalie prospect Dennis Hildeby, who could get into action on Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks. Having Samsonov off the NHL roster isn’t something that was expected this season, but the team is making the best of it and is trying their best to see how much goalie depth they truly have before making any knee-jerk trades ahead of the March 8th deadline.

Treliving Has a Plan for Samsonov

While it isn’t punishment, there’s still pressure to perform and the expectations will be high for the Maple Leafs goaltender once he returns to the NHL lineup. Treliving spoke to the media on Tuesday and shined a light on the organization’s game plan to get Samsonov back on track:
Obviously, we know Ilya is going through a difficult time. When you go through this, you kinda look at a couple of options. You keep doing what you’re doing and try to work through it, or you do something different. This plan, we looked at it, and I felt strongly that we had to do something different to help Ilya. This isn’t punishment. We need him to get back to where he’s capable of getting back to, and he wants to get there. If you knew exactly all the ways to fix things, you would do it, right?
Samsonov enters his development demotion with a 5-2-6 record, to go along with a 3.94 GAA and a league-worst .862 SV.%. He’s actually practiced extremely well this season, if that’s such a thing, and has been praised for his habits in between games. Unfortunately, as obvious as it’s been, it hasn’t translated to game action and the Maple Leafs are hopeful with a week or two of practice time, Samsonov will be able to get his confidence back, start tracking pucks better, and do whatever he needs to find his groove again.

Treliving Likely Won’t Make a Goalie Trade

Even though it’s unknown how well Joseph Woll will respond once he returns from an ankle injury, Jones has done his part to calm the storm and with top prospect Dennis Hildeby likely getting into NHL action really soon, don’t expect to see Treliving make a goalie trade anytime soon.
If there is a deal to be made, it’s after the team gives Samsonov a chance to reset, Jones a chance at #1 and Hildeby a game or two. Woll will be back before early March and there’s currently no need to hit the panic button and make, what could be, a regrettable trade. Look for Treliving to try and acquire a top-four defenseman instead as the Maple Leafs GM will do whatever he can to give his goalies the best chance to succeed.
Right now for Samsonov, that means staying away from game action and working with a slew of Leafs’ development coaches, practicing to find the perfect time to exercise his demons.

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