Talk about a dream come true. Ilya Samsonov officially made the Washington Capitals’ final roster on Wednesday. And according to head coach Todd Reirden, the 22-year-old Russian goaltender will get his first NHL start and play in his very first NHL game Friday against the New York Islanders.
The Capitals play the Carolina Hurricanes during their Home Opener on Saturday – their second game of an early-season back-to-back.
“For me, it’s how he carries himself on the ice. His presence. His composure. The size he has. He plays really big.” #Caps Coach Todd Reirden on the decision on keep Ilya Samsonov. pic.twitter.com/kCcan79Luu
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) October 2, 2019
“He continues to get better,” Reirden said to media in St Louis, explaining the decision for promoting Samsonov into Copley’s spot. “I felt like during the year last year, he really improved. There’s a learning curve for those types of guys that come over. Playing, practicing, everything about how the KHL works is different. With the amount of practice reps he gets, he had to condition himself completely different as a goaltender. When he got over here, it took him a little bit of time to get up and running, but obviously, by the end of the year in Hershey last year, he was outstanding for them and a huge part of their turnaround as a team.
“But for me, it’s how he carries himself on the ice,” Reirden continued. “His presence. His composure. Obviously, the size he has. He plays really big in terms of his overall technique and style. And obviously, his potential is through the roof in terms of being our top prospect.”
Samsonov will ride the pine Wednesday night and serve as Holtby’s back up on the St. Louis Blues’ banner-raising night – the Capitals’ season opener.
“It’s a great credit to him to be earning this opportunity and like I said, backing up tonight and look to see him here on Friday,” Reirden said.
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