Toronto Maple Leafs: Renewing Ilya Samsonov Has to Be the Next Priority

May 4, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CANADA; Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov (35) goes to make a save during warm up before game two of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
May 4, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CANADA; Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov (35) goes to make a save during warm up before game two of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

Right now, the Toronto Maple Leafs are heading into the new season without their starting goaltender from the playoffs.

Such is the sticky situation with the team’s salary cap, the Toronto Maple Leafs have yet to renew Ilya Samsonov.

The net result of this is that they figure to start the season, right now at least, with the perennially injured but two-time Stanley Cup champion, Matt Murray and the young upstart, Joe Woll.

Given the injury history and over-pay, you have to imagine that this may all change and that Matt Murray figures to depart, whether by trade or contract buy-out.

Toronto Maple Leafs Should Re-Sign Ilya Samsonov

Ilya Samsonov as a young goalie and one that performs admirably well for the Toronto Maple Leafs, deserves a contract extension. There’s no reason he can’t form a decent goaltending tandem with Woll, who loses his waiver exemption this summer.

A save percentage of 0.919 and goals against average of 2.33 across 42 games certainly speaks to a level of regular season consistency that the Leafs will want to continue.

However, it has all but guaranteed that the one-year prove-yourself deal at just $1.8 million was a one-year bargain and that the Russian has earned a definite raise.

Perhaps the biggest concern if the Leafs can’t get a deal done comes from looking at who is left on the free agent market (per CapFriendly), none of the names inspire as more than a low-cost veteran backup:

  • Martin Jones
  • Jaroslav Halak
  • Brian Elliot
  • Thomas Greiss
  • Alex Stalock

It’s a rather limited list of options, to say the least.

Contrast that list with signing Samsonov for let’s say another 2-3 years at around $3 million per season. He has every chance to prove a bargain again, though the salary cap really is a big issue there.

To get to the point of being able to offer even $3 million, the Toronto Maple Leafs need to move out over $6 million in salary.

The good news here is that there is still time to get things done. A qualifying offer is in place, thankfully he’s a restricted free agent and there’s not been any whispers of Samsonov not being keen to return.

It’s all coming down to just how flexible the team can get when it comes to the cap gymnastics (here’s looking at you Brandon Pridham) required to fit him into the line-up.

Next. A Closer Look at Who the Leafs Just Drafted. dark

A duo of Woll and Samsonov may not scream world beater,  but then again, the Vegas Golden Knights just won the Stanley Cup with Adin Hill; perhaps it doesn’t matter as much as we think.