Ilya Samsonov Has Played His Last Game For the Toronto Maple Leafs

With another unfortunate early playoff exit for the Toronto Maple Leafs, they now find themselves in a similar spot to seasons before. Many questions face this current roster, especially between the pipes. As good as Ilya Samsonov has been at times throughout his Leafs career, it may be best for the team to move on.
Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Three
Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Three / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

Ilya Samsonov has had a very interesting career with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Despite only being a part of the team for two seasons, he went from a former first-round pick that was no longer wanted by the Washington Capitals, to having the best season of his career and outplaying Andrei Vasilevski in the 2023 playoffs, helping the Toronto Maple Leafs win their first playoff series since 2004.

Samsonov followed that up this year by being put on waivers, then turning his entire season around in the second half of the year and earning the start for game 1 of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In these playoffs, Samsonov was very inconsistent, and despite playing his best game of the series in game 7, he and the team failed to come out with a victory.

As good as "Sammy" has been at times during his tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs, I think he's played his last game with the team.

Ilya Samsonov Has Played His Last Game For the Toronto Maple Leafs

Now of course, there are many resons for this, one of those being the Leafs current cap situation. While they are not strapped by the cap by any means, the more cap space they have, the better. With a ton of contacts coming off the books this summer, including Samsonov's $3.55 million, the Leafs are much better off using that money somewhere else.

One area the Leafs could spend more money on is of course the back end, or another netminder to replace Samsonov.

With Joseph Woll (who's younger than Samsonov and outplayed him each of the past two playoffs) the only goalie on the NHL roster signed for next season, the Leafs will need a replacement.

Martin Jones had a good stretch of games earlier in the season when Woll was injured and Samsonov was on waivers, and while I wouldn't mind bringing him back, he is not even an acceptable back-up goalie at this point.

Popular options to tandem with Woll for next season include pending UFAs Anthony Stolarz and Kevin Lankinen. Or even a potential trade for Jacob Markstrom or Juuse Saros (although many would prefer the latter).

In short, a mix of his own inconsistency, the emergence of rookie Joseph Woll, and potential stronger options in net all add up to Ilya Samsonov likely not playing another game in a Leafs jersey.

Although he wasn't perfect in his time with the Leafs, Samsonov's performance in game 6 of the 2023 first round will always be remembered.

While no official decision has been made, it's a pretty safe bet to say Samsonov is all but gone.


If this is the final goodbye, I will say this. All the best, Sammy, thanks for helping us win our first series in almost 20 years.