Ilya Samsonov is heading for free agency and could be the best option for the Maple Leafs

Qualifying offer day never disappoints and as the deadline passed we began getting some interesting names materialize on the list. The most interesting, at least from a Leafs perspective has to be Ilya Samsonov.

#Caps have extended qualifying offers to forward Damien Riat and defenseman Tobias Geisser. Both players are expected to play in Europe during the 2022-23 season. #Caps elect not to issue a qualifying offer to goaltender Ilya Samsonov.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) July 11, 2022

Considering that just last week, the Capitals fully intended to qualify Samsonov this comes as a pretty big surprise, especially when they’ve already unloaded a goaltender on New Jersey this week. Obviously this is a pretty good sign that the rumoured Darcy Kuemper deal with Washington is essentially done and we’re just waiting until 12 on Wednesday to make it official.

The decision not to qualify Samsonov was a financial decision. As an RFA (with arbitration rights), the #Caps projected that he’d come in at $3-$3.5 million per, which, in their view, was too much for a backup and not justified based on his performance to date.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) July 11, 2022

For the record, if that is what his arbitration case is projected as, some team (read: The Toronto Maple Leafs) should have considered acquiring Samsonov to get him on a good short term bargain deal for a year or two before negotiating. It seems far more likely (and maybe to Samsonov’s benefit) that he can negotiate on the open market. As for the Capitals, we have to assume that they will aggressively be competing with the Leafs in the backup goaltender market. The fun never ends.

I still believe the Caps are front-runners for Darcy Kuemper but obviously Toronto equally on the lookout for goalie help if Jack Campbell lands …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

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