RDS, a sports channel in Montreal, is reporting that the Canadiens reached out to the Capitals about the availability of goaltender Ilya Samsonov.
Marc-Olivier Beaudoin, who contributes to the hockey blog Dansles Coulisses, tweeted out the news.
— Marc-Olivier Beaudoin (@MOBeaudoin1) February 17, 2022
A source confirmed the news to RMNB and said the Habs “have a lot of players available. Pretty much everyone.”
Samsonov is currently in his third full season with the Capitals and his second battling Vitek Vanecek for the team’s full-time starter spot. Plagued by inconsistency, the 24-year-old Russian goaltender has a 16-7-3 record this season and a .906 save percentage. Coming into the Flyers’ game, Sammy has strung together several impressive outings, downing the Habs with 42 saves a week ago and topping the Nashville Predators while only allowing one goal on 34 shots.
“I feel I’m playing better and better. Got some more time on the ice,” Samsonov said. “Sometimes little bit up and down right now but if we see big picture we have a good progression with the team and with me. Physically I feel good, I get ready to play day by day. You feel more and more confidence. I really like it when I get more time.”
The Capitals are currently relying on Samsonov full-time with Vitek Vanecek out with an upper-body injury. The Czech netminder took the ice during the Capitals’ morning skate on Thursday. Rumors suggest the Capitals are probing the market for a veteran goaltender and made a “full court press” to try and pry Marc-Andre Fleury from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Samsonov was primed to be the Capitals’ starter last season but landed in COVID protocol twice, which railroaded what could have been a promising season. Sammy also missed the 2020 bubble playoffs after reportedly suffering neck and back injuries due to an ATV accident he had back in Russia during the lockdown.
Samsonov’s potential and overall talent are undeniable. While in the minors, Lucas Johansen compared Samsonov’s style to Carey Price while Caps goaltending great Olie Kolzig said the first-round pick “has the ability to be like” Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Canadiens are the worst team in the NHL this season posting an 8-33-7 record. Their 23 standings points are five worst than the next closest team, the Seattle Kraken. They have been without Carey Price all season long.
The Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli recently mentioned that the Capitals are looking for a “jack-of-all-trades” forward and said Montreal’s Arturri Lehkonen was a stylistic fit. The Capitals are without wingers TJ Oshie and Anthony Mantha who are working their way back from upper-body injuries.
Lehkonen, a Finnish forward, has 19 points (7g, 12 a) in 45 games this season. The left wing scored a career-high 18 goals during his rookie season in 2016-17. Since then he hasn’t eclipsed 13 goals or 31 points.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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