State your case: The #1 goalkeeper in Maple Leafs

The competition to become the number 1 goalkeeper for the Toronto Maple Leafs has begun in earnest.

Ilya Samsonov He showed what he can do on Saturday, stopping all 16 shots he faced over two stints in the 4-2 pre-season loss to the Ottawa Senators.

Matt Murray He is expected to get his first chance when he starts against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, and also plays in two periods.

Every goalkeeper enters his first season with Maple Leafs. Samsonov signed a one-year contract on July 13 after the 25-year-old was 79-52-22 with 2.81 goals-to-average, 902 savings and six lockouts in his first three NHL seasons for the Washington Capitals. Murray was obtained on July 11 through two draft picks in a trade with senators. The 28-year-old is a two-time Stanley Cup champion for the Pittsburgh Penguins and is 132-78-22 with 2.77 GAA, .911 savings and 14 closeouts in seven NHL seasons.

A team that hasn’t won a first-round series in the Stanley Cup playoffs since 2004 will rely heavily on every goalkeeper, but who should start the season as the No. 1?

Here’s the question for NHL.com writers Tom Guletti and Mike Zizberger in this segment of State Your Case:

Juliet: Murray was the No. 1 goalkeeper in the National Hockey League before and helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017, so I chose to start at the Maple Leafs. Sure, Murray has had a rough time in the past two seasons with the reconstructed Senators after they got him from the Penguins on October 7, 2020. This included dealing with injuries, inconsistent play, and a stint with Belleville in the NHL after being discharged. concessions last season. He played well after being called up from Belleville on January 1, going 5-7-2 with a 2.96 GAA and 0.912 save percentage before injury forced him to miss his last 29 games in Ottawa. Playing for the Maple Leafs, who are expected to compete for the Stanley Cup, will give the healthy Murray a fresh start, as should a solid relationship with general manager Kyle Dupas and coach Sheldon Cave. Dubbas was the general manager of Salt St. Mary has been in the Ontario Hockey League for three seasons. Keefe was a coach for two seasons when Murray played for the junior team.

Video: Matt Murray’s top 5 saves from the 2021-22 season

Zeisberger: Yes, Murray won the Stanley Cup twice with the Penguins, but that was a long time ago. He hasn’t played more than 38 games in a season since 2018-2019 due to injury. The most disturbing thing during his time with Ottawa was the status of the cases. When you’re a goalkeeper who depends on his corners, net loss (aka poor positioning) is a problem. Samsonov, my choice in this debate, is three years younger and made a great start on his pre-season debut with the Maple Leafs. New goalkeeper coach Curtis Sanford traveled to Florida for Samsonov’s off-season training with the New York Rangers goalkeeper. Igor Shesterkin. They worked on Samsonov’s deployment speed and ability to cover the bottom of the net, two improvements noted in less than a week at training camp. In short, Samsonoff has a high ceiling to work on, while recent history suggests that Murray may have already peaked in Pittsburgh.

Video: Top 10 saves of Ilya Samsonov from the 2021-22 season

Juliet: I agree that Samsonov has a ceiling he hasn’t quite reached yet, and he straddled the capitals when it looked like he might be able to realize this potential. Unfortunately, this was a recurring novel and inconsistency prevented him from seizing their first job despite the abundant opportunities. Samsonoff may break through to the Maple Leafs, but Murray has shown at least in the past that he can consistently play at that level when he’s healthy and behind a team that doesn’t rebuild. During the 2018-19 season mentioned by Mike, Murray was 29-14-6 with a 2.69 GAA, .919 savings percentage and four closeouts in 50 regular season games (all of her starts). Getting back to that level isn’t automatic, but at least Murray has shown he can do it over a long period. He was a 97-42-14-year-old with a 2.62 GAA, .917 savings percentage, and 10 layoffs for the first four seasons of the NHL. Playing behind a veteran team should provide Murray with a better structure for success.

Zeisberger: I agree that Murray’s stats have been impressive during his first four seasons in the National Hockey League. It was then, and this is now. He is 35-36-8 in his past three seasons. His inability to stay healthy is what is most concerning. He has played 47 games in the past two games, losing time due to a variety of illnesses. And when he does play, he has shown brief flashes of being the team-maker the Maple Leafs will need, especially in the post-season. Certainly, the same can be said about Samsonov. But in a case like this, I’d go with the younger player with less injury history. And this Samsonov.

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