Goalie Ilya Samsonov was assigned to the Hershey Bears, the Capitals announced Sunday. Samsonov has not played since he tested positive for coronavirus on Jan. 19.
Samsonov has played in only two games this season and his stay on the NHL's COVID-19 protocol-related absence list proved to be a lengthy one as he dealt with symptoms from the coronavirus. His last start was on Jan. 17. Because of that, he is now heading to Hershey for conditioning.
Without being able to get on the ice during his quarantine, Samsonov will need to build up his conditioning before his next NHL start. This was not as critical for Evgeny Kuznetsov who also just came off the protocol list as Kuznetsov is a skater. You can limit a skater's minutes, but obviously you cannot do that with a goalie. Samsonov will need more conditioning to get back up to game speed before he plays for the Caps again.
With Samsonov locked in a goalie competition with Vitek Vanecek, it is easy to jump to conclusions about how sending Samsonov to Hershey is a demotion, but really sending him to Hershey is not an unexpected development after so much time off.
Hershey's next two games are on Sunday and Wednesday.