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Ovechkin, Orlov Reflect On Samsonov’s Departure From Capitals

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Capitals Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Samsonov and Dmitry Olov

The Washington Capitals saw some major changes this offseason, especially between the pipes. After a couple of frustrating, inconsistent seasons for Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek, general manager Brian MacLellan made a complete overhaul in net.

Washington traded Vanecek to the New Jersey Devils for picks, and in a surprising decision, the team elected not to qualify Samsonov, making him an unrestricted free agent. He then signed a one-year, $1.8 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. After that, the Capitals brought Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren on board to make up their new tandem.

Countrymates Alex Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov recently spoke about the 25-year-old’s departure.

“It’s a pity that he failed to gain a foothold in the lineup,” Ovechkin told sports.ru. “I believe that Ilya will be fine. He’s a wonderful, talented guy. But I’m not a general manager, and I can’t solve any problems in terms of composition.”

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Ovechkin also acknowledged that there were emotional moments between the two, including an instance in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs when Ovechkin yelled at Samsonov after a miscommunication behind the net led to the Boston Bruins scoring an OT winner in Game 3. However, those were just heat-of-the-moment reactions, and in the end, he thinks highly of his former teammate and friend.

Orlov also said that it was tough to see Samsonov go, but that he believes he will do well with Toronto.

“It’s sad when a Russian guy leaves the team, but he has a new chapter in life,” Orlov told sports.ru. “Good luck to him.”

Samsonov was originally taken by Washington in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. In a tough, inconsistent 2021-22 campaign, he went 23-12-5 with a .896 save percentage and 3.02 GAA. In 89 career NHL games, Samsonov is 52-22-8 with a .902 SV% and 2.81 GAA.

When it came to MacLellan’s decision for a complete Capitals goaltending overhaul, he said the team needed to find consistency and a solution immediately rather than waiting on Samsonov and Vanecek to get things together.

“The young guys were good,” MacLellan said. “I guess it’s a little frustrating that I wish one of them would have taken over the No. 1 spot. And it seemed like one or the other were going to. But then, they never quite did it, and I think we ran out of time to wait for it.”

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