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2022 NHL Free Agency

BREAKING: Capitals Elect To Not Issue Qualifying Offer To Ilya Samsonov

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Capitals goalie Ilya Samsonov

The Washington Capitals made another shocking goaltending decision, as they will not extend a qualifying offer to RFA Ilya Samsonov. He will hit free agency on Wednesday.

Samsonov was the lone goalie on the Capitals roster after Washington traded Vitek Vanecek to the New Jersey Devils on Friday. General manager Brian MacLellan said that the team didn’t prioritize one goalie over another concerning why the team chose to keep Samsonov over Vanecek. He also made it clear Washington will dive into the goaltending market and explore “all avenues” to bring in a No.1 netminder.

The 25-year-old is coming off a one-year, $2 million bridge deal. He had a somewhat tough go-of-it in 2021-22, going 23-12-5 with a .896 save percentage and 3.02 GAA through 44 games. In Game 2 of the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he relieved Vanecek as the starter and had a decent showing with a cumulative .912 SV% in five games against the Florida Panthers.

READ MORE ON WHN: Should Capitals Keep Eye On Malkin As Tensions Rise Between UFA, Penguins?

Samsonov showed flashes of greatness and upside in 2021-22. At times, he came up with highlight-reel saves and stole huge games. However, he also struggled to find consistency and would have quite a few tough outings. That also translated to soft goals against, and he also had trouble with holding on to the stick and rebound control. It will be interesting to see what’s next.

MacLellan noted that the goalie market is thinning and a top goalie won’t come cheap. Taking that into account, Samsonov’s next deal may not necessarily mean a big pay raise. Plus, beyond goaltending, Washington also needs to potentially find secondary scoring and a top-6 center. Still, though, the team is operating on the belief that Nicklas Backstrom will return in 2022-23.

Darcy Kuemper, Jake Allen and John Gibson are just a few names that have been linked to the Capitals. Sergei Bobrovsky is also reportedly on the trade market, and Jack Campbell is another top UFA to watch.

Taking that into account, Washington has no goalies left on the NHL roster. Pheonix Copley is a UFA. Zach Fucale, Hunter Shepard, Clay Stevenson and Garin Bjorklund are in the system.

RFAs Damian Riat and Tobias Geisser received qualifying offers. Both will play in Europe in 2022-23.

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