2015 Sabres Draft Profiles: Ilya Samsonov
Could the Sabres take the top goalie on the board to solve their problems between the pipes?
Current Team: Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)
Weight: 201 lbs.
Central Scouting Ranking: 1 (European Goalies)
Currently the Sabres goalies in the professional system next year are Chad Johnson, Andrej Makarov and Linus Ullmark. They have a few others in the wing. Cal Petersen had a wonderful year at Notre Dame. Tim Murray has mentioned he likes what he's seen from young Jonas Johansson.
However, it is unclear whether or not the Sabres have their goalie of the future in the system right now. Murray had stated they'll take a goalie at some point in this draft, as they plan to do every year. Could they take one as high as 21 or 31? If they do it will likely be Ilya Samsonov, who Murray told Schopp and the Bulldog they have right around 21 in the draft.
Samsonov is one of the top young goalies coming out of Russia, and had a very good season in their junior circuit. He posted a 11-4-1 record with a .918 save percentage. He also was called up for one game in the KHL, but that didn't go so well. He ended the night with a very rough .500 save percentage.
Internationally, he's played very well. He made 46 saves in a bronze medal clinching shutout victory against Canada at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge. He was named the top goalie at the 2015 U-18 Five Nations Tournament, where he had a .942 save percentage.
Samsonov seems to be shooting up draft boards right now, going from a mid-second round pick to early second or possibly even first. Like most young goalies, especially Europeans, it will be a couple years before he really can make an impact in the NHL. He recently signed a three-year deal to play in the KHL, so it could be a while before you see Samsonov on NHL ice.
The Sabres have not drafted a goalie in the first two rounds since Jhonas Enroth in 2006. They haven't taken a goalie in the first round since Mika Noronen in 1997.
What They're Saying
"Samsonov is one of many good goaltender prospects who have come out of Russia lately. He is considered by some to be the best one since Andrei Vasilevsky. His big size and the ability to make big saves impresses scouts the most. Although there are concerns about his consistency and the fact that he barely competed against top competitors, Samsonov has the talent to become a starting goalie at the NHL level. He probably gets drafted in the 2nd round or slips into 3rd if teams are concerned about his willingness to leave his home town of Magnitogorsk making him a tier IV draft prospect."
-Dennis Schellenberg, Hockey Prospectus
"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."
-Goran Stubb, Director of European Scouting
"Combines essential elements of size and athletic ability to be imposing in the net and make scoring difficult. He is very aware and reads the play well and is quick to close down the net. An ultra competitor who never gives up on a play. With normal technical refinement, he can become a star."
"In a year where typically strong European goalie countries such as Sweden and Finland don't have sure things, Samsonov brings a unique skill set to the table. 'A lot of European goalies this year are kind of laid back in their style,' said another scout. 'But he's aggressive."
-The Hockey News