Goalie Ilya Samsonov is considered one of the top goalie prospects in the world and is someone the Capitals would like to bring over to North America sooner rather than later. But just how soon he leaves the KHL and his native Russia is up to him.
Samsonov is on the final year of his KHL contract and could come to North America as soon as this spring once his team's season is over. Or, alternatively, he could choose to sign a new contract to stay in the KHL a few more years.
So what is he planning on doing?
In an interview with Daria Tuboltseva of Championat, Samsonov was tight-lipped regarding his specific plans for next season, but said he has maintained contact with the team and is excited to play with the team’s Russian core.
Apparently the Caps’ postseason history is well known even in Russia.
One complicating factor for Samsonov is just where the Caps would play him. The incumbent starter, Braden Holtby, is still in his prime at 27 years old and is one of the top netminders in the NHL. If Samsonov comes to North America for the 2018-19 season, at best he would serve as a backup to Holtby. At only 20 years old, however, it is more likely the Caps would send Samsonov to the AHL to get regular playing time.
Playing in the KHL, arguably the second best hockey league in the world, Samsonov has put up dazzling numbers (2.13 GAA, .936 save percentage in 27 games last season). It would be understandable if he did not want to leave his native country to come to North America just to play in a minor league, but Samsonov made clear playing in the AHL would not be an issue for him.
Ilya Samsonov to @DariaTuboltseva: I'm ready to play in the AHL if it's needed. Goalie should play all the time, it's not a step back— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) August 10, 2017
Despite the fact that he would not confirm his plans for next year, it was an encouraging interview for any Caps fans hoping to see the “fearless” young goalie prospect in Washington or Hershey in 2018.
Take that, Ilya Bryzgalov.
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