Toronto Maple Leafs Goalie Ilya Samsonov Nominated for Masterton Trophy

Toronto Maple Leafs v Philadelphia Flyers
Toronto Maple Leafs v Philadelphia Flyers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

On Friday, the Hockey News reported that Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov was nominated by the cities chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association as the club's Bill Masterton Trophy finalist, which is given to the player that displays "sportsmanship, perseverance and dedication to hockey".

Samsonov has had an interesting 20 months dating back to the summer of 2022 when the former first round pick had been given up on by the Washington Capitals which was the team that developed him. The Capitals decided not to qualify him at $1.8 Million making him an unrestricted at which point the Toronto Maple Leafs came in and signed him to a one-year contract.

After his first season with the organization, the Russian netminder posted career bests in wins (27), goals against average (2.33) and save percentage (.919) and went into the summer as a restricted free agent where he was hoping for a long term contract with the club. Unfortunately a long extension wasn't being offered to Samsonov which led to him and the team going to arbitration where he was awarded a one-year deal worth $3.55 Million.

Coming into the season, everyone, including the goalie, team and fans were hoping Samsonov would take the next step and show why he was once a first round pick back in 2015. However that was not the case as although he picked up victories in his first two starts he had surrendered nine goals on just 56 shots and things did not get any better from there. (stats

Unclaimed on Waivers, Regaining Starter Role

Before the calendar turned to 2024, Samsonov had posted a 5-2-6 record with a 3.94 GAA and .862 save percentage through 15 games which included being pulled in three separate starts. He first lost the number one spot in net on the team and then on New Year's Eve he was placed on waivers; and a day later fans learned that there was not another team that wanted to take a shot on Samsonov.

After clearing waivers, general manager Brad Treliving announced that Samsonov would take time away from the team and work with the Toronto Marlies goalie coach (Hannu Toivonen).

He would return to the net on January 14 against the Detroit Red Wings and picked up a loss after surrendering three goals on 23 shots, however since that game the old Samsonov has come back and has played great. Since January 21 he has posted a 16-3-1 record with a .913 save percentage and looks as though he is the likely starter when Game 1 comes in the playoffs.

Samsonov has showed great perseverance over the season after his year looked all but over.


The Toronto Maple Leafs have had one previous Masterton winner when former winger Jason Blake took home the award during the 2007-08 season after being diagnosed with leukemia just prior to the start of the season and Blake did not miss a game despite losing ten pounds. The American winger not only won the award, but finished with a 52-points season.