The Key Stat: .912, Samsonov’s save percentage in the playoffs. That ranks 7th among all playoff goalies that played at least five games. In the regular season, Sammy had a tough time but for some reason did very well in the playoffs. He only had one ugly goal in his five games, it just happened to be at the worst time; it was the tying goal in game 6 late in the third period. Usually he has one bad goal a game, so one over a five goal span is a much better result.
The Good: Samsonov certainly had good, even great, flashes (had the number one save of the week ranked by the NHL three different times) - and as we discussed back in February, actually performed at just about where he should have overall, allowing 66 goals compared to 65.9 expected to that point (per Hockeyviz) and continuing that pace over the course of the season (as noted in the graphic above). And considering the fact that he - or his co-goalie Vitek Vanecek - was seen as the Caps’ weakest link in the postseason, Samsonov actually put together a fairly decent showing in the team’s first-round loss, with that aforementioned .912 save percentage - one that narrowly beat out his Florida counterpart in that series, to say nothing of a number of goalies the Caps “should have” traded for at the deadline.
The Bad: Sammy just had too many of those what-the-heck moments, and was prone to a lack of rebound control that often made what was a very good defensive team look bad in front of him (although of course sometimes they didn’t do him any favors, either). He’d make the very difficult save over and over again, but then let in a medium danger shot that went five-hole or just through him somehow. The fact he could make the reads and the athletic ability but let in the weak goal, points to a lack of work ethic. Cleaning up the easy, but boring part of the position (tightness, screens, slides) would turn him into a legitimate starter, but that will take a grinding effort from him to do it.
The Discussion: Will Samsonov be on the Capitals roster come the Fall? Will he work on his small game over the summer? Can he turn into the starter he’s capable of? How long will his leash be if the Capitals keep him? And finally, what would it take for you to give Samsonov a 10 next season?
The Vote: Rate Ilya Samsonov below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
How do you rate Ilya Samsonov’s 2021-22 season?
This poll is closed