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Samsonov Thanks Capitals, Pays Tribute After Rough End In D.C.

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The Washington Capitals have high expectations for Ilya Samsonov.

Although things didn’t exactly end on a positive note between the Washington Capitals and Ilya Samsonov, the 25-year-old netminder had only good things to say about his time in the District.

Ilya Samsonov took to Instagram on Saturday to pay tribute to the Capitals and to say goodbye to the team after signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs at the start of free agency.

“Thank you to the Capitals organization for drafting me in 2015 and giving me a chance to fulfill my NHL Dreams. These past three years in D.C. have been unforgettable,” Samsonov wrote. “Thank you to all my teammates, coaches and management for pushing me to be a better goalie and person every day. We’ve made some amazing memories that I’ll never forget. Lastly, thank you to the entire D.C. community for making me feel at home. The amazing fans supported us every single night and are a big reason why my time with Washington was so special!”

Samsonov, a first-round pick in 2015, couldn’t quite find his rhythm in D.C. After a tough year that saw him go 23-12-5 with a .896 save percentage and 3.02 GAA, the RFA did not receive a qualifying offer from the Capitals and hit free agency as the team elected for a full goalie overhaul.

“We were looking to make a change, first of all,” general manager Brian MacLellan said of the decision. “I think when [Alexandar] Georgiev signed his deal, the arb case changed a little bit on us. And if we would have stuck that way, we could have got stuck with a higher number than we planned on in the beginning of the year.”

Before Washington decided to let him walk, the team traded the second part of the duo, Vitek Vanecek, to the New Jersey Devils.

READ MORE ON WHN: Vanecek Has Fun Message For Ovechkin Following Trade From Capitals

Over 89 games in the NHL, Samsonov is 52-22-8 with a .902 SV% and 2.81 GAA. He still has upside and has shown flashes of greatness, but just hasn’t been able to maintain consistency or get into a rhythm. After strong games, he would have poor outings and let in soft goals while also struggling to track the puck and hold onto his stick. However, there is still plenty of upside there for him.

The Russian inked a one-year, $1.8 million deal with the Maple Leafs on the first day of free agency. He will try and battle Matt Murray for the starting role.

Meanwhile, the Capitals brought on Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren to replace Vanecek and Samsonov as the team’s newest tandem.

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