#1 Who wins the battle at goalie?
I don’t think there will be a firm starting goalie throughout the season but that doesn’t mean the competition between Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek hasn’t already started. I could see the six game preseason schedule being an audition for the goalies and then some on who would get the starting nod for opening night on Oct. 13 against the New York Rangers.
The Caps lost Vitek Vanecek for a brief second to the Seattle Kraken but traded back for him after the NHL’s newest franchise signed former Caps goalie Philipp Grubauer. Trading back for Vanecek showed the Caps weren’t entirely ready to trust Samsonov but they still trusted him enough by extending the restricted free agent for one more season.
Why it was a one year bridge deal and not a multi year bridge deal? The Caps want to see Samsonov improve his on ice performance while cleaning up his act off the ice. You may recall the ATV accident in Russia before the bubble. Those off ice issues continued into last season when Samsonov tested positive for COVID, was on the protocols list twice and then later in the season late to a team function along with Evgeny Kuznetsov.
We all make mistakes and now is the time for Samsonov to mature. If he doesn’t, that net could easily belong to Vanecek.