Capitals Choose NOT to Extend Qualifying Offer to RFA Ilya Samsonov, G
Let's jump right into it...
Earlier this evening it was reported that the Capitals did not extend a qualifying tender offer to RFA Ilya Samsonov before the Monday 5pm deadline. The move is a massive twist in what has been an already hectic few weeks for goalie news in Caps world. The Caps traded away Vitek Vanecek and it appeared to be that Samsonov was slated to be the backup or even 1A/1B starter depending on who they brought in. Tarik El-Bashir from the Athletic gives us some perspective from the Caps sides of things:
The move is quite puzzling if I am being honest. Samsonov really seemed to settle into form at the end of the regular season and into the playoffs. He played remarkably well in a series against the number one offense in the league. The DC crowd chanting his name at the end of game three "brought him to the verge of tears." Everything seemed to be trending in the right direction for Samsonov.
Why would the Capitals do this? Here are three reasons possibly to explain it:
Kuemper - They must be in big on Kuemper as it has been rumored. I am a fan of Kuemper but I am not a fan of going all-in for him and losing Samsonov in the process. I will admit, I had my fair share of complaints about the Capitals last season. It was usually something along the lines of "the only thing holding this team back is goaltending." If you are a Caps fan reading this, you probably had a moment or two or ten last season where you were banging your head against wall trying to figure out our goaltending situation. A guy like Kuemper would solve that issue on paper. He comes with his flaws but he would 100% be a significant upgrade in net. The Caps could pay Kuemper something stupid like $5-6M a year and promote Fucale or Hunter Shepard to the active roster. Shepard was briefly promoted to the active roster on May 7th to serve as the Capitals 3rd string goalie.
Need to Fill RW/C Positions:The Capitals need to fill space at RW and C with Wilson and Backstrom being out. Signing Samsonov to a 3-3.5M deal isn't crazy but it is certainly above where he performed last year. The Capitals could let him walk and save about 2.5-3M in cap space by running Fucale or Shepard as backup. With the extra cap space, this could be enough to go after guys like Kane, Malkin, D.Strome, Trocheck, Kadri. With Backstrom on LTIR...it opens up a lot of doors.
Samsonov Performance: Ilya Samsonov did not have a great couple years with the Caps. He has moments but often there was much left to be desired with Sammy. The ceiling is through the roof with Samsonov but his floor is not very high off the ground. This is a performance league and no matter where you are drafted, you have to perform. Samsonov pulled it together at the end but maybe it was too little too late.
There is still a chance he could sign back with the Caps in free agency. It is a small chance and certainly a take I have yet to see anywhere. Samsonov has a strong crew in DC and he will only marginally make more money on another team given his stats over the past couple years. If he comes back, I think the Caps sign him to a 1-2yr deal. Maybe that's wishful thinking.
What are your thoughts on the move?
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