Connect with us

Capital Takes

Silber: Washington Capitals’ Bridge Deal With Samsonov A Win-Win

Published

on

The Capitals inked Samsonov to a bridge deal that pays off for both sides.

Despite COVID-19 struggles and inconsistency, the Washington Capitals still see a No. 1 netminder in Ilya Samsonov. Now, he has a season to prove it on a deal that’ll pay off for both the player and the team.

Samsonov inked a one-year, $2 million extension with the Capitals on Monday. He was a restricted free agent and arbitration-eligible, but he elected not to file.

For Washington, the contract is a victory. It’s a one-year, low-risk deal that’s cap-friendly and allows flexibility going forward. Samsonov will become an RFA at the end of the year, at which point both parties can re-evaluate based on how Samsonov performs.

Samsonov is expected to compete with Vitek Vanecek, who was re-acquired after being taken in the Seattle expansion draft, for the starting job.

READ MORE ON WHN: Breaking Down Washington Capitals’ Re-Acquisition Of Vitek Vanecek

He finds himself in a similar situation this season: that position is his to lose, but he’ll have to compete again with Vanecek, who had a strong rookie campaign and will be looking to take his game further in his sophomore year. Vanecek will also be an RFA next summer.

“He has to earn it… I think that’s up to him,” MacLellan said of Samsonov. “He has the potential to be a No. 1 and I think he has to show it.”

As for Samsonov, the deal is also one that will mark a turning point for his career. With a bridge deal, a player understands that they’ve been given a shorter term in order to prove their capability. The 24-year-old is still looking to cement his role as a starter in the NHL. This deal is one that will allow him to push the limits and showcase his skill as he battles not only for that No. 1 gig, but a bigger extension to boot.

A bridge deal, as well as a full 82-game season, should help Samsonov maintain the right mindset going forward. His rookie year is proof of his ability. He went 16-6-2 with a .913 SV% and also came up big for the Capitals. However, the 2020-21 campaign didn’t reflect that. A tough year¬†limited him to just 19 games due to COVID-19 and “disciplinary reasons,” and he finished with 13 wins and a .902 save percentage. While he did come up big from time to time, especially in the playoffs, inconsistency raised questions about his play.

With a bridge deal to incentivize him, Samsonov has the opportunity — and perhaps a choice — to step up to the plate. The ball’s in his court now; it’s just a matter of what he decides to do with it.

Welcome to your new home for Washington Capitals breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and don't forget to subscribe to WHN+ for all of our members-only content from Sammi Silber and the National Hockey Now network.

Subscribe to WHN+ via Email

Enter your email address and receive notifications of new posts by email.

WHN on Facebook

All the Capitals news that's fit to print

Sign up and get all of our stories sent directly to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.