The Capitals are set at backup goalie with the signing of Henrik Lundqvist, but where does the team stand with its starter? Ilya Samsonov, presumed to be the No. 1 heading into this season, missed the entire 2019-20 postseason with an off-ice injury, but he appears to be recovering well in the offseason.
Braden Holtby was the No. 1 goalie in 2019-20, but Samsonov arguably outplayed him over the course of the season so it was significant that he was not even able to make the trip to Toronto to enter into the playoff bubble. He suffered an upper-body injury prior to training camp that forced him to miss the entirety of the camp before being declared out for the postseason.
With the team poised to turn the staring role over to Samsonov in the 2020-21 season, a long-term injury like this is obviously concerning.
On Friday, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan offered a positive update on Samsonov's recovery.
“Progression has been good, close to 100-percent," MacLellan said. "So we feel good about that. It’s trending, it has been trending in the right way for a long time. So we’re optimistic that he’ll be healthy to start the season.”
Samsonov has remained in the Washington area to rehab the injury.
The team is certainly acting as if Samsonov will be ready in time for next season. While Lundqvist appears to be a perfect fit as a mentor and backup to Samsonov, if there was any fear Samsonov may not be ready or that the injury could affect him going forward, signing a 38-year-old coming off statistically the worst season of his career may not have been the route the team chose to take in free agency.
We won't know for sure that Samsonov is fully healthy until we see him take the ice, but the team at least is giving every indication that he will be fine and that there's nothing to see here.