With the 22nd pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, the Washington Capitals took Russian goaltender Ilya Samsonov. Due to an ankle injury, the 18-year-old goaltender missed the NHL’s combine in Buffalo. The day before the draft, however, TASS’s Mikhail Zislis spoke to the young Russian and asked him about everything: from which goaltenders Ilya models himself after to his entire experience leading up to the draft.
Fedor Fedin has your translation.
The draft and Vasilevsky comparisons:
I saw that Bob McKenzie wrote a positive review about me. But that means nothing, and so does a draft number. Though of course I want to be picked higher. But most importantly, that club should trust me and let me play. Maybe I’ll have to go through the AHL and that’s okay. Now most important thing is just don’t stop and keep working.
Talking about comparison with the Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevsky, I can understand where they come from. Two young prospect goalies from the same country. Vasilevsky was a first-round pick a few years ago. But we have different styles, we’re different people and each of us has his own path. Before the season started I was talked as a fourth-fifth round selection. That motivated me. And I worked a lot with Metallurg’s main team which helped my progress as well.
The combine and training in Detroit:
I didn’t go [to the combine] because I chose to heal my ankle injury instead. That’s why I couldn’t participate in junior Team Russia camp as well. We decided that it’s more important to prepare for the season, not for the tests. Especially since I currently work out with the famous NHL players, mostly from Detroit: [Jamie] Howard, [Henrik] Zetterberg, [Gabriel] Nyquist. Ottawa’s goalie [Andrew] Hammond came as well. I look at them, gain experience. Though on the ice we only work one-on-one. I know that a first overall candidate [Connor] McDavid made six pull-ups at the combine. When I first came to Detroit, I couldn’t make more than four, now I easily make three approaches eight times each.
I watch a lot of the best goalie in the NHL, Carey Price. I also really like the play of a big American Ben Bishop.
NHL arrival timeframe and KHL debut:
I have a dream to play in the NHL. But it all depends on my readiness, as soon as I feel the strength, I’ll come to North America. I give myself time to build myself in Russia. I hope that I get enough ice time in the club. But I need to deserve it. I made my KHL debut last season but remember that game like a nightmare. I just came from a tournament in Czech Republic and went on a trip with the big team. [Metallurg’s starter Vasily Koshechkin] had some injury and [his back-up Alexander] Pechursky allowed two goals in a short stretch so I was put in goal. It was sudden. It’s a shame I allowed goals myself. But the negative result is still experience. I felt what it’s like to play on a high level.
As soon as Sergey Zvyagin became our goalie coach we began to change our game. I became more composed trying to distribute energy the way that allows me to stay focused all game long.
Below are some highlights of Samsonov’s first KHL outing. As explained above, it was a relief appearance against Sibir Novosibirsk in mid-November. Samsonov allowed two goals on just four shots in 21:50 of ice time.
The first goal scored on Samsonov was on a power play on a long shot by Maxim Ignatovich. Samsonov was screened.
The second goal came on a drive by Oleg Gubin off the rush, who ripped a hard, low shot using defenseman as a screen. That caught Samsonov off guard.
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