Reporter reveals the list of comparables that were used by Ilya Samsonov and the Leafs for their arbitration hearing
BY RYAN SMITHERAM JULY 25, 2023 (9:32)
According to David Alter at The Hockey News, Samsonov used the comparables of Juuse Saros ($5M AAV) and Jake Oettinger ($4M AAV). Oettinger will be an RFA with arbitration rights when his current deal expires, while Saros' deal allowed the Predators to buy three years of unrestricted free agency.
In turn, the Leafs countered with the contracts of Alexandar Georgiev ($3.4M AAV) and Vitek Vanecek ($3.4M AAV). Georgiev signed a 3-year, $10.2M deal in Colorado last summer and Vanecek signed a similar deal and avoided arbitration. From the Leafs' standpoint, as Alter pointed out, they believed that Samsonov's cap hit should be lower than that of Georgiev and Vanecek as both of their contracts bought two years of unrestricted free agency.
Why is Samsonov's awarded $3.55M salary for the upcoming season a "loss" for the Leafs? It's because the award is higher than the AAV of both of their preferred comparables and the deal walks Samsonov right into unrestricted free agency. Walking Samsonov directly to free agency could end up costing the Leafs exponentially more than if they were able to reach an multi-year agreement with him before the hearing. Samsonov would be the most sought-after goalie to hit free agency behind Connor Hellebuyck next summer, unless teams are cautious about giving Hellebuyck a long-term deal worth North of $9M per season. If that ends up being the case, another strong season for Samsonov could mean that he has more teams calling and a potential bidding war may ensue. That is, of course, unless the Leafs ink Samsonov to an extension after January 1st, when he becomes eligible to sign one.