Ilya Samsonov will sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs

The Matt Murray trade, in hindsight, might not have been all the Toronto Maple Leafs had planned. They weren’t walking away from starter Jack Campbell just to push all their chips towards a goaltender who languishes on bad teams and has dealt with concussions and confidence issues in the half-decade since he won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

According to a report by Athleticism Arthur Staple on Wednesday with less than an hour before the NHL free agent market officially opens, the Leafs and general manager Kyle Dubas indeed have a goalie plan that goes beyond Murray. It looks like Toronto will sign Ilya Samsonov to form a tandem with Murray.

Samsonov, 25, burst into the NHL in 2019-20 with a major pedigree as the Washington Capitals’ first-round pick in 2015. After a promising rookie campaign in which he posted save percentage .913, Samsonov struggled the past two seasons, posting an .898 SV percentage and ranked among the worst goaltenders in the NHL. The Capitals declined to make him a qualifying offer this week, which converted him from a restricted free agent to an unrestricted free agent.

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Samsonov failed to realize what was seen as elite potential as the No.1 goalkeeper a few seasons ago, but it’s an intriguing recovery project for the new goalkeeping coach of Leafs goalie Curtis Sanford and goaltending consultant Jon Elkin – reminiscent of Toronto’s bet on a Jack Campbell revival. Samsonov is younger than 74.8% of goaltenders who played in an NHL regular season game in 2021-22.

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