| September 22, 2022, 4:47 PM
September 22, 2022, 4:47 PM
TORONTO – He can snort about it now, however Ilya Samsonov’s begins in opposition to the Toronto Maple Leafs final season have been decidedly extra horror than comedy.
“I just remember how we played the Leafs, I’d go to the bench after first period,” the previous Washington Capitals goalie chuckles.
“Everybody knows this is the best team for scoring goals.”
Samsonov solely confronted his high-octane new crew twice in 2021-22.
But should you give up seven objectives and get yanked nicely earlier than the second buzzer in a pair decisive losses, certainly you may envision what it might be prefer to have that sort of run help circulation the opposite manner.
If you may’t beat ’em, be part of ’em.
Following Thursday’s first official apply with the Maple Leafs — a crowded, high-tempo marathon session that made use of all 4 pads on the Ford Performance Centre and required a number of floods — Samsonov was upbeat throughout his first assembly with Toronto reporters.
“I really like it. I’m so excited,” Samsonov mentioned. “Everybody here wants to win Stanley Cup, and it’s a good opportunity for me.”
So good, in reality, Samsonov says he turned down presents with long term earlier than inking a one-year, $1.8-million pact with the Leafs after a profitable pitch by GM Kyle Dubas.
“It was good for me and good for the team,” Samsonov causes.
“He really wanted it to be a one-year kind of show-me, bet-on-yourself type deal, which is not always common with players coming off of this shock of being non-QO’d when he wasn’t expecting it,” Dubas mentioned. “That was impressive to me.”
Samsonov ought to start the season as 1B to Matt Murray’s 1A, and the 2 have already struck up a friendship, arriving on the town nicely earlier than camp’s opening.
The 25-year-old deferred his most popular sweater quantity (30) to the two-time Cup champ, as an alternative choosing 35, his unique quantity in AHL Hershey.
But given Murray’s harm historical past and Samsonov’s starvation, a wholesome battle for work ought to ensue.
“Both have shown they can carry the load, and we need to get them both up and running, and it will be difficult to do that if one is playing all the games and the other is sitting,” Dubas advised reporters.
“The way the schedule is at the beginning of the year kind of makes that easy, to let them both roll. But that said, it’s going to be based on merit, on how they play in exhibition, how they play to start the year… nothing has been promised to either and they’ll earn (playing time).”
If Murray at a $4.69 million cap hit for 2 years is an enormous gamble, Samsonov for half the time period and a fraction of the value is a extra calculated one.
In 94 video games unfold over three campaigns in Washington, Samsonov recorded a .902 save share and three.02 goals-against common. Not precisely wow numbers, however he received extra video games than he misplaced (53-23-10).
Capitals GM Brian MacLellan tried to commerce Samsonov within the low season however couldn’t discover a associate. The group then declined at hand him a $2.2-million qualifying provide, letting their 2015 first-rounder stroll for nothing — a choice that Samsonov says stunned him “a little bit.”
The goalie chalks it as much as enterprise.
According to these near the crew, Samsonov’s ATV harm main as much as the 2020 bubble playoffs didn’t endear him to the crew.
Forget the numbers, one supply suggested.
Samsonov could also be athletic and able to highlight-reel moments, however he may drift or lose his stick.
The Russian constructed a repute for surrendering delicate, ill-timed objectives in shut video games that might kill momentum.
“The team gave him plenty of opportunity to seize the No. 1 job, and he couldn’t have sustained success,” the supply mentioned.
New Leafs goalie coach Curtis Sanford is embracing the problem of Samsonov’s bounce-back. Sanford flew all the way down to Florida, the place Samsonov was conducting his summer season coaching with reigning Vezina champ Igor Shesterkin.
Emphasis was positioned on enhancing Samsonov’s footwork, cross-crease velocity, and put up work. Samsonov additionally picked Shesterkin’s mind for recommendation on steeling his psychological recreation.
“He’s putting in lots of work, and he’s a very motivated guy coming in,” coach Sheldon Keefe enthuses.
“Very nice guy. Great attitude, great approach. He speaks OK English, but he goes out of his way to talk to guys.”
Prior to displaying up for camp in Toronto, Samsonov spoke together with his fellow Ilyas, Lyubushkin and Mikheyev, to get a way of what it’ll be like below the microscope.
“Everybody says the same thing: nice people, a lot of media here,” Samsonov smiles.
“Me and Matt will get some opportunity both. It’s really nice opportunity for me. He’s nice guy. We’ll try to push together, and we want to win with this team.”
Muzzin sidelined already
Jake Muzzin was a notable absentee from Day 1 of camp’s on-ice classes.
The top-four defenceman will probably be sidelined till early subsequent week as he nurses discomfort in his again.
“I’m feeling good, and I haven’t felt anything about the concussions I’ve had in the past. But I’m feeling good and ready to go for this year,” Muzzin advised reporters on Wednesday.
Keefe says he’s not involved with the seriousness of the difficulty.
“Today, for the most part, is one of the hardest days of the year. This was a good day to give him some additional time away,” the coach mentioned.
The 33-year-old was restricted to 47 appearances in 2021-22 as he battled a number of illnesses however confirmed nicely within the seven-game Tampa Bay collection.
Toronto’s blueline depth has taken a preseason hit, with RFA Rasmus Sandin nonetheless unsigned and Timothy Liljegren (hernia) out for at least six weeks.
One-timers: Calle Järnkrok kicked off camp alongside Auston Matthews and Michael Bunting. Adam Gaudette skated with John Tavares and Mitch Marner. The new guys will get prime audition time for the highest six…. Pierre Engvall (foot) skated in full tools on a separate pad. He is dominated out till Oct. 3…. Goalie Joseph Woll (shoulder) and ahead Mikhail Abramov (again) are nonetheless recovering from accidents…. The crew was cut up into the 2 teams that can host the Ottawa Senators in Saturday’s preseason double-header…. The Maple Leafs’ coaching camp playlist — cranked to 11 — felt very a lot impressed by the Super Bowl LVI halftime present and the Dr. Dre household tree. A gentle stream of classic N.W.A., Eminem, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, and The Game. A little bit Future and Drake tossed in for good measure. No complaints right here.
Maple Leafs Day 1 strains
Bunting – Matthews – Järnkrok
Aston-Reese – Kämpf – Anderson
Robertson – Kerfoot – Aube-Kubel
Clifford – Minten – Simmonds
Rielly – Brodie
Benn – Mete
Kokkonen – Villeneuve
Gaudette – Tavares – Marner
Malgin – Holmberg – Nylander
McMann – Der-Arguchintsev – Abruzzese
Steeves – Douglas – Ellis
Giordano – Holl
Kral – Dahlström
Rifai – Hollowell
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