Breaking down the winners and losers of the Ilya Samsonov/Leafs arbitration case
BY RYAN SMITHERAM JULY 23, 2023 (6:13 PM)
This middle ground was $3.65M so an award at $3.55M is actually a small win for the Leafs in the sense that the arbitrator gave them the winning edge of a middle ground decision. With the award finally settled, the Leafs now have access to a second buyout window where they are expected to now buy out the final year of Matt Murray's contract, if he isn't traded in the coming days or labelled for LTIR next season. By buying out the final year of Murray's deal, the Leafs would save $4M in cap space, more than enough room for Samsonov's new contract.
In addition to the arbitration award being a small win for the Leafs for this season, Samsonov's salary ranks 29th among goalies which makes it a steal for the Leafs considering where Samsonov ranked statistically last season. Now, the Leafs have to hope that Samsonov can continue to play the way he did last season and that he doesn't feel slighted by the arbitration process and sour with the club.
With this new deal in place, it will buy the Leafs one year to either win Samsonov over again or figure out a solution beyond next season. The obvious hope is that Joseph Woll will continue to make strides this season and continue to improve. Should he not, and should Samsonov walk as a UFA next summer, it will leave the Leafs in a bit of a predicament between the pipes.