* With a flat salary cap, some expiring contracts and the Seattle expansion draft, this is going to be a busy offseason for the Capitals. To get you ready, Capitals writers Andrew Gillis and JJ Regan are breaking down the biggest offseason questions with their thoughts.
Today's question: What will Ilya Samsonov’s next contract look like?
Andrew: There’s been much scuttlebutt about how Ilya Samsonov has the ceiling of 26-year-old Andre Vasilevskiy. Well, if that’s the case, the Capitals are in for a mighty fun future.
But after Vasilevskiy’s entry-level deal expired, he signed a three-year, $3.5 million deal with the Lightning. In the three years before his bridge deal, he posted save percentages of .918, .910 and .917. Obviously, Samsonov doesn’t have that pedigree and was a .902 goalie in 2020-21 and is a career .908 goalie.
I think it’s clear a bridge deal is coming, especially considering the Capitals need to wait for the salary cap to begin to rise once again. Right now, even if the bridge deal means you have to pay Samsonov out the wazoo down the line, it’s a move the Capitals have to make.
I would expect his deal comes in around $2-2.5 million, but I think the Capitals get him for a multi-year deal under that and let him prove he’s the goalie they think, and hope, he can be.
JJ: It took a while, but in the playoffs, Ilya Samsonov finally looked like the goalie the Caps expected him to be last season. But even if Samsonov took a step towards cementing himself as the team's No. 1 goalie going forward, there are two sides to every contract negotiation. Regardless of what Samsonov's ceiling may be, he is a 24-year-old goalie with two years of NHL experience, a career .908 save percentage and a few cases of disciplinary lapses already.
A bridge deal seems all but certain. From the Caps' perspective, they don't have the cap space to give out a big deal and pay extra for UFA years. Samsonov, meanwhile, has not done enough to warrant a multi-year extension or high cap number as of yet and a bridge deal will better set up him for a major contract in a few years, assuming he earns one.
My guess would be two years at $2 million, perhaps a touch more on the cap hit to entice him to sign in order to avoid arbitration. With the tight cap situation, the last thing the Caps want is the uncertainty of arbitration.