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Samsonov & Woll: A Steal of a Deal for the Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs got a good contract with Ilya Samsonov at arbitration. How will the duo of Samsonov and Joseph Woll work out?

It was a little surprising that the Toronto Maple Leafs actually proceeded to arbitration with goalie Ilya Samsonov. It was their first arbitration case in a decade.

Related: Auston Matthews’ New Contract Will Set Maple Leafs Standard

First Arbitration Case in a Decade

Arbitration cases are relatively uncommon in the NHL. For the Maple Leafs, as noted, this was their first completed arbitration case in ten years. The problem with the process is that it can be tense and uncertain.

However, in this case, the Maple Leafs resolved their contract impasse with Samsonov. By doing so, they solidified their goalie situation for the upcoming season.

Financially, the Process Worked Out Well for the Maple Leafs

At least according to how the finances of the arbitration process went, the result was positive for the Maple Leafs. They now have secured their young goalie on a one-year contract worth $3.55 million. The downside is that, should Samsonov set the world afire with his play, they only have him secured for the 2023-24 season.

Ilya Samsonov, Maple Leafs

The deal was awarded by mediator Stephen Raymond just two days after the arbitration hearing. And, as noted, the result granted Samsonov the chance to become an unrestricted free agent at the age of 27, which comes on July 1, 2024. How that will turn out is anyone’s guess. But that’s for later.

The one-year deal awarded to Samsonov could present both challenges and opportunities for the Maple Leafs. The team gets to decide whether to negotiate a longer-term contract with their goalie at some later point.

However, there’s always a chance that this past arbitration might have soured Samsonov. If so, he has no compunction to re-sign with the Maple Leafs. If so, the organization risks losing the youngster to another interested team.

Related: Erik Karlsson Moving to the Maple Leafs: Probably Won’t Happen

Not to Forget the Promising Rookie Joseph Woll

For the upcoming season, Samsonov will be the Maple Leafs’ starter. But, he’s not the only goalie on the team. The team now has a promising young goalie tandem. The other young goalie is the 25-year-old rookie, Joseph Woll.

Woll is signed to an entry-level contract, which runs through 2024-25. That contract comes with a manageable $766,667 average annual value (AAV). He’s been nothing but good in his small sample size (including good play during the postseason).

He’s an attractive and cost-effective backup option for the team. Now, Samsonov’s one-year contract at $3.55 million added to Woll’s affordable deal provides the Maple Leafs with a reasonably priced goalie twosome.

That duo could prove to be a significant asset for the team. Now, if the team can clear Matt Murray’s $4.69 million contract off their roster, things will be (at least on paper) rosy.

The Bottom Line

The Maple Leafs’ successful resolution of Samsonov’s arbitration case and the presence of Woll as a cost-effective backup has exciting potential. Samsonov is secured for one season – but for one season only.

Matt Murray Ilya Samsonov Maple Leafs arbiration buyout
Matt Murray Ilya Samsonov Maple Leafs arbiration buyout

The challenge might be Samsonov’s impending unrestricted free agency. Although it’s a question for next offseason, what is his long-term future with the franchise? On the other hand, maybe that’s not such a problem. What if Woll continues to grow and improve?

Could he be the goalie of the Maple Leafs’ future?

Might it be that the team already has that in its future plan? It could be a fun season for Maple Leafs’ fans as they watch how this dynamic duo plays. If the goalies play well, there’s a good chance the team will have on-ice success.

As I think about it, the goalie situation for the upcoming season looks so much more promising than it did entering last season.

Related: Whatever Happened to ex-Maple Leafs Goalie Garrett Sparks?



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