The Capitals head to the hub city of Toronto on Sunday to begin the postseason and Ilya Samsonov will not be with them. In two weeks of training camp, the rookie netminder did not make a single appearance on the ice. To protect player safety, NHL protocols regarding player health only require teams to disclose that player is "unfit to play" so for two weeks we have been in the dark about Samsonov's status. Now we know more of the story.
On Saturday, the team disclosed that Samsonov suffered an injury prior to camp and he would remain in Washington for treatment and not travel with the team. Considering we are in the midst of a pandemic, Samsonov's lengthy absence certainly raised eyebrows, but head coach Todd Reirden confirmed Saturday that Samsonov's absence was not due to the coronavirus or any positive test.
"It is disappointing for the player, disappointing for us," head coach Todd Reirden said. "He’s a guy that is a really good young prospect for us so for us not to have him with us is disappointing and I thought he has made some strides and obviously put together a pretty good run this year."
When asked if it was possible that Samsonov could join the team later, Reirden neither confirmed nor denied, but noted that the team had to give the NHL a completed travel roster in which Samsonov was not included. Whether Samsonov could later be added if he is healthy remains unclear. Reirden also mentioned getting Samsonov ready for next season with his treatment, however, so it certainly does not sound as if the team is anticipating that he could return for the 2020 postseason.
"To be without him is certainly disappointing," Reirden said, "But the right thing to do is to leave him here and allow him to get treatment so that he is ready to go next year when we have that opportunity to start playing hockey again.”
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