Ilya Samsonov Clearly Toronto Maple Leafs Number One
The Toronto Maple Leafs have not made any formal announcement, but Ilya Samsonov is clearly the team’s number-one goaltender.
With Matt Murray’s stats declining as the season moves along and him suffering yet another injury, the Toronto Maple Leafs number one goaltending job is no longer up for debate.
Matt Murray entered this season looking for a fresh start. After one game, he suffered an adductor injury and missed a month of action.
Now he appears to be dealing with an ankle injury. According to Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe, Murray has been nursing a minor ankle ailment for a while now, and this recent injury is a flare-up of that. There is no telling how long he will be out of the lineup, but it’s not expected to be for too long.
Toronto Maple Leafs Goaltending Situation
Before the January 27th game against the Ottawa Senators, Murray had a record of 4-3-0 since the NHL Christmas break.
During that same time, Samsonov had a 6-1-2 record. Samsonov had yet to lose in regulation on home ice this season.
That all changed when Toronto lost to Ottawa 6-2, but he bounced back and helped Toronto beat Washington 5-1 on Sunday. The number-one starter in Toronto is Samsonov, and until he has a string of bad games or gets hurt, the net is his for the rest of this season. (Stats from hockey-reference.com)
Samsonov, like Murray, has seen his numbers get worse each month since November, but Samsonov’s have not been as drastic. Here is a comparison of both goaltenders’ stats since November.
November – 1.51 GAA and .937 SV%
December – 2.38 GAA and .913 SV%
January – 2.46 GAA and .913 SV%
November – 2.17 GAA and .938 SV%
December – 2.44 GAA and .911 SV%
January – 3.69 GAA and .883 SV%
As you can see, Samsonov has been able to keep his GAA below 2.50 and his SV% above .900, which is what a team wants from their starting goaltender.
Samsonov will get the start on Wednesday against the Boston Bruins. Toronto will not play again until a set of back-to-back games against the Columbus Blue Jackets on February 10th and 11th. The long break between games is due to the NHL All-Star break.
Matt Murray could likely rejoin the Toronto Maple Leafs in time for one of those games. It all depends on how his ankle heals over the next ten days. If he cannot return, then Joseph Woll could get the start.
Woll was called up to be the backup while Murray’s out. The Toronto Marlies’ starting goaltender has a 12-1-0 record this season. Woll last played in the NHL for Toronto during the 2021-22 season. He posted a 3-1-0 record in four games with a 2.75 GAA and a .911 SV%.
So long as Samsonov stays hot, he will remain the number-one goaltender in Toronto. He also has a good chance at starting in net for the Toronto Maple Leafs once the playoffs start. Murray has more playoff experience after helping the Pittsburgh Penguins win two Stanley Cups, but I believe Sheldon Keefe will play whichever goaltender is playing the best.