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Mar 23A Russian hero – Kaprizov had a knack for scoring big goals early
Mar 22A Brit in the NHL draft – Liam Kirk is reaching for the dream
Mar 20Boqvist and Bouchard in tight race to follow Dahlin
Mar 19Report: Connor McDavid to play at the World Championships
Mar 15Despite playoff exit – Erik Brännström hopes his season isn’t over

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February 28, 2018

Capitals’ goalie-of-the-future has his eyes set on the NHL

Goalies usually peak later than other players and, hence, drafting them can be a tougher task. One of the top goalies in the world, Sergei Bobrovski, was never drafted into the NHL but this didn’t stop him from winning two Vezina Trophies and getting several other accolades. Other goalies, though, are thought so highly of that they are chosen in the first round, like Andrei Vasilevsky of the Tampa Bay Lightning for example. Another one is Ilya Samsonov, who was picked by the Washington Capitals 22nd overall pick at the 2015 NHL Draft.

Bobrovski was a bit of a late-bloomer as he didn’t play with the Russian national team until the 2008 WJC in the Czech Republic, where he backstopped Team Russia to a bronze medal. Samsonov, pretty much like Vasilevsky, got his feet wet with the national teams very early and therefore he had much more exposure. While Samsonov didn’t leapfrog stages at the same rate as Vasilevsky, he definitely had a strong showing in his junior career, representing his country at one U18 and two U20 WJCs, winning best goalie honors at the 2015 U18 WJC in Lucern, Switzerland, despite Russia’s sensational loss to the home team, 5-0, in the quarterfinals.

Samsonov debuted in the KHL during the 2014-15 season, even before getting drafted into the NHL. He played only one short portion of a game that year, spending most of the season with Metallurg Magnitogorsk’s junior team in the MHL. He was then promoted to the senior team, backing up Vasili Koshechkin, one of the top goalies in the KHL and fresh winner of an Olympic gold medal.

“Competition is too strong of a word,” Samsonov replied to Daria Tuboltseva of championat.com before the start of the season when asked about the competition between him and Koshechkin. “We have more of a collaboration, we are always supporting one another and don’t fight over who will play. It’s up to the coaching staff. There is no war between us.”

Certainly practicing and playing with such an experienced goalie like Kosheckin, who has won multiple medals at the IIHF WC including a gold medal in 2009, has helped Samsonov. Something he confirms himself.

“Vasili’s already shown everyone how good he is, and he has a ton of experience. He plays more games, but that for me is even better because this gives me even more motivation. I watch the way he plays in this or that situation and I definitely gathered a lot of experience playing alongside with Koshechkin.”

Of course, Samsonov can’t yet match the experience of a player with 15 years of pro hockey experience, but at 21 years of age, he has already played more than 70 games in the KHL, other than the experience with the Russian national team at the junior and the Euro Hockey Tour level.

Samsonov is a very athletic goalie, and at 6’3”/205 lbs. he has the size required to a modern-day netminder. As Director of European Scouting for the NHL, Göran Stubb, sums it up:
“He has good size and covers the net well. He plays at the top of the crease and effectively squares to the shooter. He shows good instincts, is well balanced and can make acrobatic saves.”

The young goalie’s contract runs out in April and chances are good that he will move overseas as soon as this summer. He is represented by former superstar Igor Larionov.
“His agent proposed us unacceptable conditions,” Metallurg Magnitogorsk’s GM Gennadi Velichkin told championat.com in late December. “We’ll play by the rulebook: his contract is running out and we’ll give him a qualifying offer, that’s for sure. But if he has an option of signing in the NHL then, for God’s sake, we’re honoring it. We’re all proud of Ilya.”

Samsonov will end up on a team where there is an uncontested number one goalie in Braden Holtby. But Samsonov seems to be ready. When asked by Daria Tuboltseva about his chances to move overseas next summer, he replied in a very positive manner, as translated by the popular Washington Capitals blog Russian Machine Never Breaks: “Seemingly so (laughing). I don’t even know. We talked to the Capitals management, it was a positive conversation. There is a chance, but I need to work harder. This is the best league in the world after all. There are another five prospects competing for the same spot as me.”

In the same interview, Samsonov seemed very cool with the option of playing in the AHL. Considering that it took Andrei Vasilevsky two years to become the number one goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning, it can be forecasted that a couple of seasons in the minors will certainly not hurt Samsonov’s development, even more so if he will get to play a few games at the NHL level at some point. In any case, Caps’ fans should be satisfied: they have a young goalie with great potential who definitely wants to play in the NHL.


Alessandro Seren Rosso

23 March, 2018

A Russian hero – Kaprizov had a knack for scoring big goals early

Some players look like they are going to be NHL superstars as soon as they are born. Many of the players in the NHL nowadays have hockey in their bloodlines and...

22 March, 2018

A Brit in the NHL draft – Liam Kirk is reaching for the dream

We’ve seen them show up every once in a while, players with a rather exotic background in terms of hockey culture. Their stories are often filled with sac...

20 March, 2018

Boqvist and Bouchard in tight race to follow Dahlin

While it would be a stretch to call the 2018 NHL entry draft a dull affair, we do have a pretty good idea of how it will start out. It?ll be Frölunda Indians de...

19 March, 2018

Report: Connor McDavid to play at the World Championships

His Edmonton Oilers won’t reach the Stanley Cup playoffs, but that doesn’t mean Connor McDavid‘s season is over once the NHL regular season is...

15 March, 2018

Despite playoff exit – Erik Brännström hopes his season isn’t over

March 14th is no date to end your hockey season. For Vegas Golden Knights’ prospect Erik Brännström, it’s way too early. The slick defensemen experi...

13 March, 2018

The best team in junior hockey right now

The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have lost seven games in regulation all season. Yes, you read that right. Seven losses in regulation, total. How many games they...

11 March, 2018

Expected trade gives undrafted Swedish prospect a better shot at the NHL

It was an unique situation. Sure, Victor Ejdsell had a great season, winning the  scoring title after piling up 57 points (25+32) with Bik Karlskoga. Still, the...

07 March, 2018

Vegas’ prospect pool deepens with breakout season from Nicolas Hague

Much has been said about Vegas Golden Knights? inaugural season, and deservedly so. The team everyone deemed unlikely to even make the playoffs currently leads ...

02 March, 2018

For Dominik Kahun, strong Olympic performance could present NHL opportunity

If you found yourself growing increasingly impressed by Germany while watching the Olympic Mens’ Ice Hockey tournament unfold, I got news for you: you wer...

23 February, 2018

Is Filip Zadina the best forward in the 2018 NHL Draft?

You couldn?t help but notice him out there. Shift after shift, game after game. Wearing number 18 for the Czech Republic, there was never a moment where 18-year...

21 February, 2018

A beginner’s guide to prospect development in the United States

In what is now to be considered an article series, this second edition of ?Beginner?s guide? takes us to the United States where we take a look at how domestic ...

19 February, 2018

Maple Leafs’ Russian prospect looks ready for North America

When he was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second day of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Yegor Korshkov wasn?t keen on moving overseas yet: ?I wouldn?t...

15 February, 2018

Will the star-studded, new-look Frontenacs be a playoff threat?

It doesn?t take much to realize that the Kingston Frontenacs are going for it all this season.  Currently sitting fifth in the OHL in points, the team?s trade d...

15 February, 2018

Heiskanen carries burden of expectation going into Olympics, NHL career

Few prospects carry the same aura of expectation as young blueliner Miro Heiskanen. While the Dallas Stars? 3rd overall pick in the 2017 draft likely holds hims...

13 February, 2018

Erik Karlsson’s homage to Rasmus Dahlin: “He’s much better than I was at that age”

As Rasmus Dahlin prepared himself for the next big adventure in his young career, the player he has idolized and patterned some of his game after while growing ...

12 February, 2018

Has the grind gotten to Eeli Tolvanen ahead of the Olympics?

Months ago, ahead of the 2018 WJC, we published a story on who we believed would win the scoring trophy at said tournament. The candidates chosen for the piece ...

10 February, 2018

Why Vancouver Canucks fans will love Jonathan Dahén

 It was unquestionably a strange sight. As crowds were pouring out of NHK Arena, satisfied with hometown team Timrå IK’s convincing 2-0 victory over hated...

09 February, 2018

What’s going on with Dylan Strome?

In a normal draft year, Dylan Strome would have been selected first overall. But 2015 was far from a normal draft year. A generational talent named Connor McDav...

07 February, 2018

Kapanen eager to establish himself in Toronto

Kasperi Kapanen got himself open at center ice, smoothly picked up the breakout pass from Auston Matthews and quickly blazed up the left wing. With every stride...

04 February, 2018

Europe vs. North America – who’ll have the first goaltender in the 2018 draft?

Rarely do you see a goaltender get selected in the first round of the NHL draft. Well, rarely is a somewhat strong word for it, but in the context of comparing ...

03 February, 2018

The steal of the 2017 draft – Eeli Tolvanen looks NHL ready

In European hockey, a huge debate is always tied to the question whether the most promising players should move overseas or keep on developing at home. While th...

02 February, 2018

Kailer Yamamoto has hit his stride in the WHL 

Kailer Yamamoto took a wicked slash from Oskar Steen in the dying seconds of the United States? semifinal loss to Sweden at the World Juniors in Buffalo. It loo...

01 February, 2018

Not an afterthought anymore – Swedish sniper looks to give Sabres value

When he was drafted 181st overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2014 NHL draft, Victor Olofson was an afterthought. That’s no slight on him personally, it&...

31 January, 2018

Mathias Emilio Pettersen – Scouted for over a decade

Few hockey players can say they were a YouTube-celebrity at age six. For Norwegian center prospect Mathias Emilio Pettersen though, it?s exactly what happened. ...

30 January, 2018Canada’s golden hero is having a season for the ages
30 January, 2018Ranking: They lead the way at mid-season Calder Trophy race
29 January, 2018Seven prospects to keep track of during the Olympics
27 January, 2018What’s the best fit for Rasmus Dahlin?
26 January, 2018Who is going to stop Russia’s All-Star studs at the Olympics?
25 January, 2018Dominik Bokk – a German that shunned the Draisaitl route
25 January, 2018Logan Stanley – An old school player in the modern era
08 January, 2018The WJC summed up in seven thoughts
08 January, 2018The future of Avalanche blueline resides in Canada
06 January, 2018Gold medal recap: Canada wins gold at WJC in Buffalo
05 January, 2018WJC Semifinals Recap – Sweden, Canada advance to gold medal game
03 January, 2018WJC Quarterfinals Recap: The Czechs upset Finland – Canada cruises to semifinals
02 January, 2018WJC 2018 Quarterfinal Preview – here are the match-ups
01 January, 2018Casey Mittelstadt clear MVP through group stage; 2018 draft-eligibles shine
01 January, 2018Recap of Day 6: Sweden tops Group B, USA pulls out late win against Finland
31 December, 2017Kurashev leading second wave of talented Swiss prospects
31 December, 2017Recap of Day 5: Canada tops out in Group A – Sweden takes third straight win
29 December, 2017The call him “The Hunter” – meet the Caps’ rising prospect
29 December, 2017Recap of Day 3: Slovakia upsets United States, Finland dominates Denmark 
28 December, 2017Recap of Day 2 – Canada pushes past Slovakia to remain perfect
27 December, 2017Will Czech Republic’s Necas and Chytil continue to produce their magic?
27 December, 2017Recap of Day 1 – Czechs confirm dark horse status with win over Russia
26 December, 2017Russia looks to extend WJC streak with largely unknown squad 
26 December, 2017Rasmus Dahlin highlights Swedish squad looking to end medal drought 
26 December, 2017Talented Finnish team eager to make amends after last year’s fiasco
26 December, 2017Who belongs where? – The WJC players and the NHL teams they are drafted by
25 December, 2017Too good for the World Juniors – here are the players you’ll miss in Buffalo
25 December, 2017WJC Countdown: Zibanejad ends Sweden’s gold drought in OT
24 December, 2017United States send roster loaded with offensive talent to Buffalo
24 December, 2017WJC Countdown: Chubarov nets twice in 1999 final
23 December, 2017WJC Countdown: David Aebischer leads Switzerland to first-ever World Juniors medal 
23 December, 2017The curious case of Sean Day
22 December, 2017WJC Countdown: Peter Forsberg sets tournament record with whopping 31 points 
22 December, 2017Revolutionizing the game of hockey: who will be next?
21 December, 2017WJC Countdown: The NHL lockout allowed Canada to ice a historically-good team in 2005
21 December, 2017Back in the spotlight
21 December, 2017Russia’s Svechnikov fighting for roster spot, high draft position
20 December, 2017WJC Countdown: Kapanen’s heroics etch his name in Finnish history
20 December, 2017Predicting the top scorer for the 2018 World Junior Championships
19 December, 2017European free agents providing value for NHL clubs
19 December, 2017WJC Countdown: Kazakhstan upsets Canada in front of tiny crowd
18 December, 2017WJC Countdown: United States wins first-ever gold medal after bizarre own-goal
18 December, 2017The five WJC defenders most likely to be on an NHL roster this fall
17 December, 2017WJC Countdown: Russia snaps gold medal drought in 2011 with three ridiculous comebacks
17 December, 2017Canada leaves skill at home in favour of balanced team
17 December, 2017CHL talent has history of producing gems on American roster
16 December, 2017The matter of talent development in Sweden
16 December, 2017WJC Countdown: Tavares’ MVP showing and Eberle’s clutch goal lead Canada to fifth-straight gold
15 December, 2017Makar looking to join rare group of Canadian NCAA stars
15 December, 2017A beginner’s guide to the CHL
14 December, 2017Cool as a cucumber – Rasmus Dahlin ready to embrace the pressure of the WJC
14 December, 2017Is Canada leaving too much skill at home?
14 December, 2017Is Flyers’ prospect Hart a lock for the Canadian starter’s job?
14 December, 2017Edmonton Oilers give Kailer Yamamoto the chance to shine at the WJC
13 December, 2017The Olympic Kids – prospects that starred on the big stage
13 December, 2017Can any of the WJC underdogs break through in Buffalo?  
12 December, 2017A Russian trend – three forwards headed for the first round?
12 December, 2017Deep Russian squad looks to extend medal streak 
11 December, 2017The 2018 WJC underdog that could win it all
11 December, 2017The World Junior Championships – an audition for the Olympics
10 December, 2017Sweden’s elite talent looks to end cycle of WJC mediocrity
10 December, 2017Lukas Vejdemo – taking the patient route to the NHL
09 December, 2017Nicklas Lidström on Rasmus Dahlin: “He looks like Brian Leetch”
09 December, 2017Where are they now? – Three forgotten WJC stars
08 December, 2017Breaking down Team Canada’s roster snubs
08 December, 2017Finland on the rebound after disastrous showing at last year’s WJC 
07 December, 2017Away from the spotlight
07 December, 2017Why Adam Boqvist wasn’t picked for the Swedish WJC camp
07 December, 2017Sabres faithful may get chance to see Mittelstadt shine
06 December, 2017Aleksi Heponiemi – Poised for success
06 December, 2017The hunt for the next Erik Karlsson
06 December, 2017Americans look to finally come through on home ice 
05 December, 2017Canada no longer dominates the WJC like they used to 
05 December, 2017Redefining the modern defenseman
05 December, 2017What the Swedish WJC team should look like