Can Ilya Samsonov handle Leafs' workload and be playoff ready?
Maple Leafs goaltender Matt Murray on the injury list again, leaving Ilya Samsonov in sole possession of the starter status. Backup Joseph Woll has some NHL experience but Samsonov will be relied upon to carry Toronto through the rest of the regular season and into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
OMAR: So it's Ilya Samsonov's net. We talked about that already because he deserves it. He's been playing great. But now it's legitimately his net because Matt Murray is injured again. And the thing about this one is that we weren't really given a timetable. We weren't given like, oh, he's going to be out for a couple of weeks or a month or whatever. It's just, he is out, and he will be evaluated.
So that begs the question, is it going to be Samsonov for the rest of the season? Is it going to be Samsonov into the playoffs? And if that's the case, is Joseph Woll, who has just been called up, is he going to be the backup for the rest of the season as well?
I mean, cap-wise, I guess I can see the benefit of putting Matt Murray on LTIR. That's an additional $4 million-plus of cap space we can make use of. The salary cap's awesome, isn't it? And on the other hand, I'm a little worried because if we overwork Samsonov a little bit, maybe he may not be as fresh for the playoffs.
Now, goalies will always say, hey, you know what? I'll play, I'm on a roll. I'll play whenever. But that has to be something Sheldon Keefe kind of has to keep in the back of his head, right? Yes, Samsonov is doing well right now. But we want him to do well in April and May and maybe June and maybe-- no, just June.
So from that aspect, that worries me. Woll has had an amazing year. He's battled injuries, but he's come back with the Marlies. And literally, there was a point where he was on like a 10-plus-game winning streak. And he's played NHL games before. He shut out the Islanders last year. It was awesome. It was sick.
If the Leafs can trust Joseph Woll to start some legitimate games and not only on the second half of back-to-backs or whatever, then I'm OK. But if we're at a point where we have to continue to run Samsonov and then, in addition, to make him be the starter in the playoffs, then I'm a little concerned.
But I don't know. I think as of late, Samsonov has given us a lot of reason to believe that he can be the person long-term, he can be the guy long-term. I just hope they don't prove us wrong.