The Toronto Maple Leafs Have Waived Ilya Samsonov

Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Islanders
Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Many questioned when Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brad Treliving would get out of his vacation mode he went on months ago; the answer is New Year's Eve.

Sportsnet confirmed throughTwitter on Sunday afternoon that the Toronto Maple Leafs have placed goaltender Ilya Samsonov on waivers.

The Leafs brought the former first round pick into the organization in the summer of 2022 after the Washington Capitals washed their hands of one of their previous top prospects when they failed to qualify him at $1.8 Million which made him an unrestricted free agent.

Kyle Dubas jumped in and signed Samsonov to a one-year deal at his qualifying offer and the Russian goaltender was worth every penny of that contract last season. He came into the season as the back-up to Matt Murray who was also acquired that summer, but by way of a trade. After some injuries to the two-time Stanley Cup champion, Samsonov took over the top role and ran with it.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Have Waived Ilya Samsonov

During his first season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Samsonov started 40 games and came in relief twice, posting a 27-10-5 record with a sparkling 2.33 GAA and .919 save percentage.

While Samsonov's game did look like it was starting to go downwards during the playoffs he was still able to help the Maple Leafs win their first playoff series victory since 2004 when they took down the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. Samsonov posted a 3.14 GAA and .900 save percentage in that series.

Going into the off-season, Samsonov was a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, but was looking for a long term deal. In what looks like the only positive move of any significance that Treliving has done, he decided not to award him a long-term contract and instead went to arbitration where a one-year deal at $3.55 Million was settled on.

When this season started Samsonov was anointed the number one role in net, however despite winning his first two games of the year, he surrendered nine goals on just 56 shots and questions started to come up whether he was a legitimate top goaltender. Throughout the season, things only got worse and it was visibly noticeable that he had lost all confidence in himself.

At the time of being placed on waivers Samsonov has started 15 games for the club and has been pulled in three of those games while he has also allowed 4+ goals in five of his last six games. Over his current four game losing streak where he was pulled in one of them, Samsonov has surrendered 21 goals.

While many fans will likely assume that Samsonov, along with his 3.94 GAA and .862 save percentage will clear waivers, there is a strong likelihood that he is claimed.

Unlike when Jack Campbell cleared waivers earlier this season, there is a lot less risk with Samsonov. If claimed, Campbell would have had three more seasons after this year at a $5 Million cap hit, while Samsonov has little over a half a season left at $3.55 Million. (stats )

A bottom feeding team such as Ottawa, Chicago or San Jose could put a claim in on him and hope he regains his game. If he does, they could flip him at the deadline, retain half his salary and get a good rebuilding chip back. It would be just like the Toronto Maple Leafs luck if Samsonov would be claimed, then traded at the deadline to a team like the Florida Panthers and he would then steal a first round series against his former team.

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At the time of writing, it is unclear what goalie will be joining the Maple Leafs on their upcoming road trip. Eric Comrie was also placed on waivers by Buffalo and could be a potential goaltender or they could call up Dennis Hildeby.