Washington Capitals Leave Ilya Samsonov Unqualified

Ilya Samsonov unqualified

With the restricted free agent deadline approaching, teams are tendering their final qualifying offers on Monday. The Washington Capitals just left a huge piece hanging. Goaltender Ilya Samsonov will be hitting the free agent market on Wednesday. After trading Vitek Vanecek, this leaves the Caps with Zach Fucale as the only goalie under contract. This means Washington will be big players in the market or looking to make a big trade.

Capitals Leave Ilya Samsonov Unqualified

Some Capitals fans will be confused by this move. Samsonov is only 25 years old and has shown flashes of brilliance. At 6’3″ and 200 lbs, he has the physical attributes and talent to be a franchise goalie. But his results have been less than encouraging. This past season, he went 23-12-5, but with a .896 save percentage. The record looks promising, but the save percentage doesn’t. His save numbers have declined over the last three seasons. He had a .913 save percentage in 2019-20 and a .902 save percentage in 2021. The Caps have tried to increase his workload to get him ready for a regular role. However, this hasn’t helped.

Samsonov had some redemption in the playoffs. Despite a 1-3 record, he recorded a .912 save percentage. He held his own against the high flying offence of the Florida Panthers. However, the front office didn’t think this was enough to tender an offer. There’s a chance he may re-sign, but with many teams looking for goaltending, he should get a fair amount of offers. He’s still young and has a lot of upside that can be refined.

What Do the Caps Do In Net?

With Fucale the only goalie under contract, this means the Caps will be spending in free agency. There have been a lot of rumors connecting them to former Avs goalie, Darcy Kuemper. The veteran goalie is coming fresh off a Stanley Cup win with the Colorado Avalanche. Washington is doing what they can to get one more run of their core. Kuemper would be a huge part in that. The Capitals haven’t gotten elite goaltending since the Holtby/Grubauer duo that won their first Cup in 2018. Kuemper had a stellar season with the Avs, going 37-12-0 and sporting a .921 save percentage.

The Capitals have to make this move count. If they can land Kuemper, then their chances of making a deep playoff run improve greatly. They could still make a play for Jack Campbell, but he has ties to Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. Kuemper is one of the best options on the market this summer. Washington’s best shot at another playoff run is Darcy Kuemper in the net.