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Maple Leafs Look to Get Samsonov Signed to a Short-Term Deal

Toronto Maple Leafs face contract negotiation questions with Ilya Samsonov as his arbitration hearing approaches.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are gearing up for crucial contract negotiations with goaltender Ilya Samsonov and with Samsonov’s arbitration date set for July 21, speculation is rife about the potential outcomes of these discussions. If no deal is reached by tomorrow morning (which is unlikely), the Leafs and Samsonov will present their arbitration figures. The team typically submits a lower figure, while the player’s camp aims for a higher number. An arbitrator, if required, often meets both sides in the middle.

The likelihood that this reaches a hearing is quite low as rumors suggest that the Maple Leafs may have a framework in place for Samsonov’s extension and that the arbitration filing could be a strategy to open a second buyout window. In that window, the Maple Leafs will specifically deal with goaltender Matt Murray.

However, the details of the extension with Samsonov remain a topic of curiosity for fans who are eager to know which direction the team is leaning.

Maple Leafs Want No More Than 3 Years for Samsonov

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Maple Leafs are hesitant to offer a contract extension beyond three years. Samsonov had an impressive first season with Toronto, posting a .919 save percentage, a 2.33 goals-against average, and a 27-10-5 record. But, the Leafs want shorter-term deals for their players and the sample size on Samsonov is not very big.

To manage Samsonov’s new deal, the Leafs will need to make adjustments due to their current salary cap situation and the focus is on Matt Murray. Friedman says he believes the questions about Murray’s health complicate matters because it’s not entirely clear if the team can even buy him out, should that be Plan A. He added that LTIR or a trade are the other options depending on how bad things are. GM Brad Treliving is still believed to be searching the market for trade partners.

Related: 5 Reasons Maple Leafs Should Hope Joe Woll Becomes Goalie 1B

David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period also chimed in on the Samsonov situation and suggested that a short-term, bridge-type contract similar to Adin Hill’s recent deal with the Las Vegas team, valued at over $4 million, may be a viable option for Samsonov. This arrangement could help offset the buyout cost for Matt Murray, assuming the Leafs can get that done.

Could the Leafs Let This Go to An Arbitrator?

If Samsonov isn’t keen on a short-term deal or the two sides can’t reach an understanding, the Maple Leafs could let this go to an arbitration hearing and potentially secure him at a more favorable price on a one-year deal. The downside is that in a one-year deal situation, Samsonov would become a free agent next summer, granting him significant leverage.

Ilya Samsonov, Maple Leafs

For the Leafs, they could really test Samsonov on a one-year show-me deal and then try to sign him long-term if he plays well. At the same time, they would be assessing what they have in goalie prospect Joseph Woll. But, if Samsonov walks, that’s a problem should he prove he’s the started the Leafs want and need.

Ultimately, the Maple Leafs face an interesting situation. They need to strike the right balance of term and money to secure a player like Samsonov for next season, but they want flexibility for seasons to come.

Friedman also reported during his interview on NHL Network that the Maple Leafs and William Nylander are currently at a contract negotiation standstill. Friedman believes that unless one side makes a significant compromise, a contract agreement between the team and Nylander is unlikely to be reached in the near future.

Next: Mikael Backlund Hasn’t Totally Ruled Out Extension With Flames

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