One of the more notable absences during training camp has been Washington goaltender Ilya Samsonov. It turns out that his injury that was suffered before camp will be enough to hold him out for the entire postseason as the team announced to reporters, including Samantha Pell of the Washington Post (Twitter link) that he will remain in Washington to undergo treatment and was not on the playoff-eligible roster that was submitted on Friday.
That means that veteran Braden Holtby will be the starter this postseason. The veteran is coming off the worst statistical season of his career as he posted a 3.11 GAA with a .897 SV% in 48 appearances for the Caps. Those numbers are below the league average for a backup let alone a starter. That had presented the possibility that Samsonov, their goalie of the future, would get a chance to play in the playoffs but that’s clearly not an option now.
This will give Holtby one last chance to boost his value before hitting the open market in October as an unrestricted free agent. Given the cap crunch and Samsonov’s presence, it seems quite unlikely that the Capitals will be able to retain him this summer.
Meanwhile, the Capitals will likely use these next two weeks to determine who will serve as Holtby’s backup. Pheonix Copley, last year’s backup, is the presumptive favorite while Vitek Vanecek, who had the better numbers this season with AHL Hershey, is also in the mix.
Washington has also made their final cuts to get down to the 31-player roster. Tarik El-Bashir of The Athletic reports (Twitter link) that forwards Shane Gersich and Garrett Pilon are the ones that will not participate in the postseason. Both players played exclusively in the AHL this season.