Capitals 2014 first-round pick Ilya Samsonov will be a free agent next spring and has two goals for himself this upcoming season. “[N]ot to make any rash decisions,” he said in an interview with Championat’s Daria Tuboltseva Thursday. “The most important thing is to play well this year, and then we’ll see.”
The 20-year-old Samsonov, who said he personally roots for Washington’s success “very much”, agreed that his chances for leaving for the NHL next summer were high. Samsonov hopes his performance with Metallurg Magnitogorsk this season aids him in figuring into the Capitals plans next year at the NHL level. Samsonov, one of the best goaltending prospects in the world, went 15-3-5 last season with 2.13 goals against average and a .936 save percentage.
“There is a chance (I could back up Holtby), but I need to work harder,” Samosonov said. “This is the best league in the world after all. There are another five prospects competing for the same spot as me.”
Holtby’s current backup, Philipp Grubuauer, is talented enough to be a starter on most other NHL teams, but has not broken through because of his Vezina Trophy-winning teammate. After having his name bandied about in trade rumors and mock expansion draft lists last year, Grubauer will be a restricted free agent for the final time this spring. If Grubauer remains in the organization, Samsonov is open to riding busses and playing in the American Hockey League.
“Why not? Or you can say that you are not prepared to play in the AHL, and be left with no game action, and that is not a good thing,” Samsonov said. “The AHL may be a step down for the skaters, but for a goalie – the puck is the same, everything is the same, it will only be helpful.”
Samsonov called playing with the Caps troika of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov a dream. He just hopes his “sports hernia” injury will not limit him this season.
“Recovery was difficult,” Samsonov said. “I wouldn’t wish such a thing on anybody. Unpleasant, dreary, slow. I am almost 100% now, but the injury is still bothering me, I worry a bit, but there is still time before the season starts.”
Igor Kleyner’s full translation of Samsonov’s comments about free agency and the Capitals are below.
You are one of the top goalie prospects in the country, has there been any interest in you from other KHL teams?
Ilya Samsonov: “Never heard of any offers from other clubs, don’t know anything about that. As far as I understand, it’s never been discussed. You cannot rule out anything in the future, never now how life may turn out. What if Magnitogorsk decides to trade me (laughing). This is the last year of my contract, we’ll see what happens next.”
Your contract with Magnitogorsk runs out in April of 2018. What are you plans?
Ilya Samsonov: “For now, not to make any rash decisions. Let’s see. The most important thing is to play well this year, and then we’ll see.”
Washington’s contract with Holtby runs for another three years, but his backup Grubauer ends after this season. Does it mean your chances to leave for the NHL next year are rather high?
Ilya Samsonov: “Seemingly so (laughing). I don’t even know. We talked to the Capitals management, it was a positive conversation. There is a chance, but I need to work harder. This is the best league in the world after all. There are another five prospects competing for the same spot as me.”
Do you talk to the representatives of Washington often?
Ilya Samsonov: “Last year we talked very often. Periodically meet with the scouts during international tournaments, they also come to Magnitogorsk. Mostly it’s my agent Igor Larionov who talks to them.
Are you ready to play in the AHL?
Ilya Samsonov: “Why not? Or you can say that you are not prepared to play in the AHL, and be left with no game action, and that is not a good thing. The AHL may be a step down for the skaters, but for a goalie – the puck is the same, everything is the same, it will only be helpful.”
The teams in the AHL bus everywhere, the overall conditions are so much worse than in the NHL. Are you ready to go to America even while you have everything at Magnitogorsk?
Ilya Samsonov: “Do you think we all came out of golden sheets here? Of course not. Just two years ago I was on the bus with Steel Foxes, the same when I was in the youth academy. Of course it is great that Metallurg gets to fly everywhere. But regardless, we don’t really care that much about our living conditions, it’s part of the occupation.”
To play on the same team with Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Orlov – is it a dream?
Ilya Samsonov: “Yes. The guys are NHL stars, it would be great to play alongside. But I need to make the team first.”
Washington keeps missing out on Stanley Cup. Aren’t you afraid the team may be cursed?
Ilya Samsonov: “Why? The guys play well, but come up a little bit short. I am not afraid of anything, anything can happen in the NHL. I don’t want to talk about the team’s results. I wasn’t there and wasn’t playing. I root for Washington very much, they drafted me after all.”
Last April you had a surgery. What was the problem? How are you feeling now?
Ilya Samsonov: “Gradually recovering. I had a sports hernia, they fixed it, and I was training again 16 days after the operation. Recovery was difficult. I wouldn’t wish such a thing on anybody. Unpleasant, dreary, slow. I am almost 100% now, but the injury is still bothering me, I worry a bit, but there is still time before the season starts. We have been working on this for over three months, every day.”
Was there any time left for a real vacation?
Ilya Samsonov: “We combined vacation time with rehab this year. Lived in Miami for a month, so I could train and relax at the same time.”
Has your English improved?
Ilya Samsonov: “It is way better now. But still plenty of room for improvement, I need to learn a lot more.”
Translation by Igor Kleyner.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.