Caps Road Trip Roundup: Injuries, Controversy, and Intense Games

michael banner 2The Washington Capitals have recently concluded a four-game road trip with stops in Minnesota, Winnipeg, Colorado, and Montreal. FiCP takes a look at what was a roller-coaster type week.  Continue reading “Caps Road Trip Roundup: Injuries, Controversy, and Intense Games”

Capitals Drop Preseason Home Opener in New-Look Capital One Arena

The Washington Capitals continued their preseason on Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins, the same team they took on Sunday afternoon to open the exhibition slate as well as the team they will begin the regular season against on October 3rd at Capital One Arena. They once again fell to the Bruins, this time by a final of 5-2. The big story, however, wasn’t what took place on the ice but the new-look arena off the ice. FiCP was there and got a first look at the renovations.  Continue reading “Capitals Drop Preseason Home Opener in New-Look Capital One Arena”

It’s Like a Goalie Festival at MedStar Capitals Iceplex

Wednesday was the target date for most of the players to return to MedStar Capitals Iceplex for some conditioning prior to the start of training camp 14 September.

Although not everyone is here yet – no Tom Wilson sighting – we do have four of the franchise goalies in attendance.

Everyone’s favorite goaltender – Smiling Braden Holtby is back an in command of the situation. Actually -he was pretty good today chatting and encouraging the other goaltenders, especially his number two guy, Pheonix Copley, who wears number 1.

Iiya Samsanov seemed more comfortable in the net, with his new red goalie mask, than when last we saw him at development camp. His name is now on the Capitals roster with Holtby and Copley, so it is anyone’s guess who will be sitting number two.

And up from the Hershey Bearss we find Vitek Vaneck, who was holding his own against the incoming shots. He an Evgeny Kuznetsov shared a little secret on the ice…

The Caps are in a fortunate position. Although they lost Philipp Grubauer they have great potential to fill the number two spot behind the Holtbeast. The next few weeks of testing combined with a few preseason games will help the powers that be determine who sits between the posts when giving Holtby a rest. And they are watching all the prospects to size them up – as in assistant general manager Ross Mahoney who kept a watchful eye Wednesday.

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Oh and did we mention that Ovi is back??!!

Elite Prospects On Ilya Samsanov Future

Russian goaltender Ilya Samsanov will be joining the Hershey Bears for the 2018/19 season. He will receive an introduction to the NHL/AHL style of play as the franchise grooms him for an eventual back-up or number spot on the Capitals roster.

In February 2018, Alessandro Seren Rossi Elite Prospects wrote an article on the grueling process Russian goalies take to stardom in the NHL. Give it a good read.

Goalies usually peak later than other players and, hence, drafting them can be a tougher task. One of the top goalies in the world, Sergei Bobrovski, was never drafted into the NHL but this didn’t stop him from winning two Vezina Trophies and getting several other accolades. Other goalies, though, are thought so highly of that they are chosen in the first round, like Andrei Vasilevsky of the Tampa Bay Lightning for example. Another one is Ilya Samsonov, who was picked by the Washington Capitals 22nd overall pick at the 2015 NHL Draft.

Bobrovski was a bit of a late-bloomer as he didn’t play with the Russian national team until the 2008 WJC in the Czech Republic, where he backstopped Team Russia to a bronze medal. Samsonov, pretty much like Vasilevsky, got his feet wet with the national teams very early and therefore he had much more exposure. While Samsonov didn’t leapfrog stages at the same rate as Vasilevsky, he definitely had a strong showing in his junior career, representing his country at one U18 and two U20 WJCs, winning best goalie honors at the 2015 U18 WJC in Lucern, Switzerland, despite Russia’s sensational loss to the home team, 5-0, in the quarterfinals.

Samsonov debuted in the KHL during the 2014-15 season, even before getting drafted into the NHL. He played only one short portion of a game that year, spending most of the season with Metallurg Magnitogorsk’s junior team in the MHL. He was then promoted to the senior team, backing up Vasili Koshechkin, one of the top goalies in the KHL and fresh winner of an Olympic gold medal.

“Competition is too strong of a word,” Samsonov replied to Daria Tuboltseva of championat.com before the start of the season when asked about the competition between him and Koshechkin. “We have more of a collaboration, we are always supporting one another and don’t fight over who will play. It’s up to the coaching staff. There is no war between us.”

Certainly practicing and playing with such an experienced goalie like Kosheckin, who has won multiple medals at the IIHF WC including a gold medal in 2009, has helped Samsonov. Something he confirms himself.

“Vasili’s already shown everyone how good he is, and he has a ton of experience. He plays more games, but that for me is even better because this gives me even more motivation. I watch the way he plays in this or that situation and I definitely gathered a lot of experience playing alongside with Koshechkin.”

Of course, Samsonov can’t yet match the experience of a player with 15 years of pro hockey experience, but at 21 years of age, he has already played more than 70 games in the KHL, other than the experience with the Russian national team at the junior and the Euro Hockey Tour level.

Samsonov is a very athletic goalie, and at 6’3”/205 lbs. he has the size required to a modern-day netminder. As Director of European Scouting for the NHL, Göran Stubb, sums it up:
“He has good size and covers the net well. He plays at the top of the crease and effectively squares to the shooter. He shows good instincts, is well balanced and can make acrobatic saves.”

The young goalie’s contract runs out in April and chances are good that he will move overseas as soon as this summer. He is represented by former superstar Igor Larionov.
“His agent proposed us unacceptable conditions,” Metallurg Magnitogorsk’s GM Gennadi Velichkin told championat.com in late December. “We’ll play by the rulebook: his contract is running out and we’ll give him a qualifying offer, that’s for sure. But if he has an option of signing in the NHL then, for God’s sake, we’re honoring it. We’re all proud of Ilya.”

Samsonov will end up on a team where there is an uncontested number one goalie in Braden Holtby. But Samsonov seems to be ready. When asked by Daria Tuboltseva about his chances to move overseas next summer, he replied in a very positive manner, as translated by the popular Washington Capitals blog Russian Machine Never Breaks: “Seemingly so (laughing). I don’t even know. We talked to the Capitals management, it was a positive conversation. There is a chance, but I need to work harder. This is the best league in the world after all. There are another five prospects competing for the same spot as me.”

In the same interview, Samsonov seemed very cool with the option of playing in the AHL. Considering that it took Andrei Vasilevsky two years to become the number one goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning, it can be forecasted that a couple of seasons in the minors will certainly not hurt Samsonov’s development, even more so if he will get to play a few games at the NHL level at some point. In any case, Caps’ fans should be satisfied: they have a young goalie with great potential who definitely wants to play in the NHL.

Caps Development Camp Day Two Standouts and Photos

The Capitals continued with their development camp on Wednesday. After an easy start on Tuesday, the coaches really put them all through the paces. It was Test Day for the forwards and defensemen on the Arlington Rink while the goalies worked on their skills over on the Capitals Rink. They all came together for more drills at the noon hour.

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Continue reading “Caps Development Camp Day Two Standouts and Photos”

Caps Development Camp Day One With the Goalies

There is a lot of excitement about the future for the Hershey Bears and the Washington Capitals, and much of the excitement is about goalies. Tuesday we had a first look at who might be in the pipeline.

Like Evgeny Kuznetsov before him, we have been watching for a certain Russian goalie to join the workforce. Meet Ilya Samsonov – number 30.

Add Logan Thompson, a free agent:

Additional goalies at camp include Mitchell Gibson (57), Frank Marotte (59), and Peyton Jones (60).

Coaches were kind of light on them today but expect the pace to pickup now that they have all gotten acquainted.

Samsanov: A (goal)ie for the Future

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Goalie Training During Caps Dev Camp, June 2016

At 6’3″ ,200 pounds, and born in Magnitogorsk Russia, Ilya Samsonov came to Caps Development Camp with brand new white goalie pads. By the end of camp those pads had marks on them from pucks upon pucks being shot at the 19-year-old goaltender.

 

Drafted last year in the first round, Samsonov still has two years left with the KHL team Mettalura Magnitogorsk, the reining Gargarin cup champions (our Stanley Cup equivalent).  All media and fans were eager to see Samsonov’s work.. Impressive  indeed!

 

Ilya working with goalie coach Mitch Korn with  Sergey Koncharv (head of Caps PR) translate for Samsonov, was truly entertaining to watch. We saw all of Coach Korn’s different ways to train. such as the goalie holding a medicine ball without their stick and  making a save by dropping to their knees to strengthen their core. This was difficult for Samsonov to comprehend due to his language barrier; however, once Sergey translated, Samsonov started getting quicker and knowing what to do simply from Coach Korn’s hand movements.

As Caps Dev Camp went on, we started noticing Samsonov is very athletic and covers a large part of the net. With coaching from the likes of Mitch Korn and Olie Kolzig; (who was watching from the sidelines all week),  Samsonov has the ability to take his game  much further for the future.  Keep your eyes on this one Caps fans!

Samsonov already has a great support system here in DC with all the Russian players. We’re sure they can help him learn the NHL-style of playing hockey and transition into living in the USA.  Ilya is already getting a heads up on the English language as he recently purchased an Apple TV to learn how to speak English, according to Isabelle Khurshudyan (Washington Post, 7/1/16)Washington Post

Samsonov is locked into playing for Russia until 2018, but the future sure looks bright for this young goaltender and for Caps fans…Maybe another Vezina winner in the system!?!