Dennis Hildeby looking to take advantage of NHL experience
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Insider reveals the Leafs' plan for Samsonov if Hildeby actually plays well at the NHL level

Published January 3, 2024 at 0:23
BY RYAN SMITHERAM

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov begins his assignment to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL today while the Leafs head to LA to take on the Kings tonight. As previously reported, Samsonov is not scheduled to play any games for the Marlies, but was originally scheduled to be with them for the week. However, on TSN1050's First Up this morning, Chris Johnston revealed that the Leafs may revisit how long Samsonov stays with the Marlies at the end of the week.

"If they're winning games without him and they don't necessarily need him back right away at the NHL level then it gives more time for him to not have to be there."

Another wrinkle here is that Samsonov was not present for Marlies practice on Tuesday, and per The Athletic's Joshua Kloke, he isn't expected to practice with the Marlies this week. Strange, if the plan was to get Samsonov back to feeling like his old self. It's almost as if the team is planning for a bit of a longer-term situation here.

Johnston noted that if Jones and Hildeby can collect some wins while Samsonov is with the Marlies, it will allow the Leafs to let Samsonov stay working with coaches instead of rushing him back into the NHL. Not only did Johnston mention that Samsonov's stay could be extended, but he also said that, if possible, the Leafs might look at using a Hildeby-Jones tandem until Joseph Woll returns, rather than loading most of the weight onto Jones' shoulders.


Johnston did not touch on this, but with Samsonov having cleared waivers, it has become significantly easier to trade him as he could be assigned to the AHL without having to clear waivers again, so that's another interesting dimension in all of this.

The chances of the Leafs trading him are slim to none, but it does give them more options should they explore that route. With the Leafs kicking off their annual California road trip tonight against the LA Kings, it will be interesting to see how head coach Sheldon Keefe deploys Jones and Hildeby this week and how their play will dictate what the Leafs do with Samsonov later in the week or beyond.

POLL
January 3   |   815 answers
Insider reveals the Leafs' plan for Samsonov if Hildeby actually plays well at the NHL level

Does Ilya Samsonov actually play any AHL games this week or next?

No, I don't think he does52063.8 %
Yes, he'll have to get his game back somehow29536.2 %
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