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NHL Analyst believes he has the solution to the Leafs' goaltending problem


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Mike Armenti
December 30, 2023  (11:06)
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Ilya Samsonov has lost all confidence for the Leafs
Photo credit: NHL

Since the very beginning of the season, Ilya Samsonov hasn't been quite right, and I don't think I have to bore you with the details. We've seen the numbers. We know that something isn't quite right with him and that it seems to be more mental than physical. Now, it's not about the problem anymore - it's about finding a solution.

Following last night's embarrassing 6-5 OT loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Sportsnet panel, which consisted of David Amber, Justin Bourne, Nick Kypreos and Elliotte Friedman, broke into some post-game discussion about where the Leafs go from here and how they fix their goaltending problems. Kypreos, surprisingly, seems to have his finger on the pulse and suggested a possible solution to the Samsonov problem.
Kypreos believes that the Leafs need to send Samsonov to the American Hockey League, either through waivers or on a conditioning loan, to see if he can get his game straightened out there. He also believes that the team needs to reward the excellent play of goalie prospect Dennis Hildeby with his first taste of NHL action.
Obviously, this isn't a guaranteed fix and it also isn't without its risks. We have already seen the Edmonton Oilers waive Jack Campbell, sending him to Bakersfield in the AHL, further destroying his confidence. He has now lost the AHL starting job and appears destined for a buyout this summer, likely signalling the end of his NHL career.
Samsonov still has the luxury of being relatively young, so he'll still have the opportunity to bounce back, even with a rough run in the AHL, if it comes to that. However, his confidence is shot right now and the Leafs cannot continue to bleed points in the standings hoping he'll pull it together eventually. Waiving him is absolutely the right thing to do based on his play and nothing else.
Meanwhile, a recall for Hildeby is risky. He's really rolling right now in the AHL to the tune of a .920 SV% and a 2.15 goals against average. Calling him up too early and having NHL shooters feast on the rookie goalie could put him in a similar position to the one Samsonov is in right now, destroying his confidence.
It is worth noting that Hildeby has 45 pro games under his belt between Europe and the AHL. He's also 22 years old. Another Leafs icon, Felix Potvin, was just 21 when he made his debut for the Leafs and he had just 39 games of pro experience at the time. We know how that worked out for the Leafs.
The team is not likely to make such a move on Saturday, with the team playing host to the Carolina Hurricanes this evening, but I'll be interested to see what happens on Sunday and Monday before the next back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday.
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30 DECEMBRE   |   1159 ANSWERS
NHL Analyst believes he has the solution to the Leafs' goaltending problem

Should the Leafs send Samsonov to the AHL and recall rookie Dennis Hildeby?

Yes107592.8 %
No847.2 %
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