Reporter reveals the list of comparables that were used by Ilya Samsonov and the Leafs for their arbitration hearing

Ryan Smitheram
July 25, 2023  (9:32)

When the arbitration numbers were submitted by the Leafs and RFA goaltender Ilya Samsonov ahead of their arbitration hearing last week, many were surprised at how far apart the two sides actually were. The Leafs offered Samsonov a $600K raise from his $1.8M salary last season in their filing while Samsonov wanted to almost triple his salary and asked for $4.9M. In the end, Samsonov was awarded $3.55M for the upcoming season. At the time, it seemed like it was a win for the Leafs, but now that the comparables that both sides used during the hearing have been revealed, it appears that it is more of a win for Samsonov.

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.
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Reporter reveals the list of comparables that were used by Ilya Samsonov and the Leafs for their arbitration hearing

Will Ilya Samsonov re-sign with the Leafs this season or walk as a UFA next summer?

He'll re-sign8538.5 %
He'll go to UFA, looking to cash in13661.5 %
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