TORONTO — He can giggle about it now, however Ilya Samsonov’s begin towards the Toronto Maple Leafs final season was extra of a shock than a comedy.
“I bear in mind once we performed the Leafs, I would go to the bench after the primary interval. The three video games,” the freshman exclaims.
“Everybody is aware of that is the most effective group to go to.”
In truth, Samsonov solely confronted his new high-octane group twice in 2021-22. However in the event you quit seven targets and get yanked lengthy earlier than the second buzzer in a decisive loss, two nights will certainly really feel like extra.
If you cannot beat them, be a part of them.
After Thursday’s first official observe with the Maple Leafs – a crowded marathon session that used all 4 pads on the Ford Efficiency Middle and required a number of floods – Samsonov was pleased together with his first assembly with Toronto reporters.
“I prefer it rather a lot. I am excited,” Samsonov stated. “Everybody right here needs to win the Stanley Cup, and it is an amazing alternative for me.”
So good, in truth, that Samsonov says he turned down longer-term gives earlier than inking a one-year, $1.8 million cope with the Leafs after a profitable pitch with GM Kyle Dubas.
“It was good for me and good for the group,” Samsonov stated.
“He actually wished it to be a one-year, bet-yourself form of showcase deal, which is not at all times frequent with gamers popping out of this shock of being non-QO once they weren’t he anticipated. it,” Dubas stated. “That was spectacular to me.”
Samsonov ought to begin the season because the 1B reverse Matt Murray’s 1A, and the 2 have already constructed a friendship, arriving on the town properly earlier than camp opens.
The 25-year-old retired his favourite jersey quantity (30) of the two-time Cup champion, as a substitute choosing 35, his authentic quantity in AHL Hershey.
However with Murray’s damage historical past and Samsonov’s starvation, it needs to be a wholesome battle for work.
“Each have proven that they’ll carry the load, and we have to get each concerned, and it will likely be tough to do this if one is enjoying each sport and the opposite is sitting,” Dubas advised reporters.
“The way in which the schedule is at the start of the 12 months makes that straightforward, to allow them to each roll. However that stated, it is going to be based mostly on benefit, how they play in an exhibition, how they play to begin the 12 months…nothing has been assured both and they’ll earn (enjoying time).
If Murray is a giant gamble at a cap hit of $4.69 million for 2 years, Samsonov for half the time period and a fraction of the value might be a extra accountable one.
In 94 video games unfold over three campaigns in Washington, Samsonov recorded a .902 save proportion and a 3.02 goals-against common. Not precisely wow numbers, however he received extra video games than he misplaced (53-23-10).
Capitals Brian MacLellan tried to commerce Samsonov within the offseason however could not discover a accomplice. The group then declined to offer him a $2.2-million qualifying provide, permitting their 2015 first-rounder to stroll for nothing — a call Samsonov says shocked him “slightly bit.”
The keeper makes it as much as enterprise.
In response to these near the group, Samsonov’s damage to ATV main as much as the 2020 bubble playoffs didn’t trouble the group.
Overlook the numbers, suggested one supply.
Samsonov could also be athletic and capable of spotlight reel moments, however he may swing or miss his stick.
The Russians developed a status for conceding gentle, premature targets in shut video games that may kill momentum.
“The group gave him loads of alternative to seize the No. 1 job, and he could not have succeeded,” the supply stated.
Curtis Sanford, the Leafs’ new goaltending coach, accepts the problem of Samsonov’s defender. Sanford went right down to Florida, the place Samsonov was doing summer season coaching with Vezina champ Igor Shesterkin.
Emphasis was positioned on enhancing Samsonov’s footwork, crossover pace, and put up work. Samsonov additionally picked Shesterkin’s mind for recommendation on stacking up his psychological sport.
“He is placing in a whole lot of work, and he is a really thrilling man coming in,” enthused coach Sheldon Keefe.
“Very good boy. Nice look, nice approach. He speaks good English, however he goes out of his solution to discuss to boys.”
Earlier than exhibiting up for camp in Toronto, Samsonov spoke together with his colleague Ilyas, Lyubushkin and Mikheyev, to seek out out what he’ll appear to be beneath the microscope.
“Everybody says the identical factor: good individuals, a whole lot of media right here,” Samsonov laughed.
“Me and Matt can have an opportunity collectively. It is a actually good alternative for me. He’s a pleasant individual. We’ll attempt to push collectively, and we wish to win with this group.”
Muzzin on his aspect already
Jake Muzzin was a notable absence from Day 1 of the camp’s on-ice periods.
The highest defender might be sidelined till early subsequent week nursing again discomfort.
“I really feel good, and I have never seen something about my earlier concussions. However I really feel good and able to go this 12 months,” Muzzin advised reporters on Wednesday.
Keefe says he’s not involved in regards to the severity of the case.
“As we speak is, for many, one of many hardest days of the 12 months. This was an excellent day to offer him some additional time away,” stated the coach.
The 33-year-old was restricted to 47 appearances in 2021-22 as he battled a lot of illnesses however confirmed properly in Tampa Bay’s seven-game streak.
Toronto’s blueline depth has taken a success within the preseason, with RFA Rasmus Sandin nonetheless unsigned and Timothy Liljegren (hernia) out for at the least six weeks.
One-time staff: Calle Järnkrok began the camp with Auston Matthews and Michael Bunting. Adam Gaudette skated with John Tavares and Mitch Marner. The brand new boys get prime audition time for the highest six…. Pierre Engvall (leg) skated in full gear on a separate pad. It’s banned till October third…. Goalie Joseph Woll (shoulder) and ahead Mikhail Abramov (again) are nonetheless recovering from accidents…. The group has been break up into two teams that can host the Ottawa Senators in a preseason doubleheader on Saturday…. The Maple Leafs coaching camp playlist — cranked as much as 11 — felt closely impressed by the Tremendous Bowl LVI halftime present and Dr. Dre’s household tree. A gradual stream of outdated NWA, Eminem, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, and The Recreation. Throw in A bit of Future and Drake for good measure. No complaints right here.
Maple leafs day 1 traces
Bunting – Matthews – Järnkrok
Aston-Reese – Kämpf – Anderson
Robertson – Kerfoot – Aube-Kubel
Clifford – Minten – Simmonds
Rielly – Brodie
Mountain – Mete
Kokkonen – Villeneuve
Gaudette – Tavares – Marner
Malgin – Holmberg – Nylander
McMann – Der-Arguchintsev – Abruzzese
Steeves – Douglas – Ellis
Giordano – Holl
Kral – Dahlström
Rifai – Hollowell