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Washington Capitals Goaltending Could Have a Different Look Next Season

For the past two seasons, the Washington Capitals have relied on the goaltending tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek. But will that change next year?
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For the past two seasons, the Washington Capitals have relied on the goaltending tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek. Neither one has stood out as a reliable starter, generating speculation that one of them could be playing elsewhere next season.

Samsonov, 25, was supposed to be the heir apparent to former starter Braden Holtby. He's appeared in 39 games with a 22-9-4 record but sports a less-than-impressive 2.93 goals-against average and .899 save percentage. The 26-year-old Vanecek's stats are better (2.58 GAA, .912 SP) with a decent 18-115 record but nothing in his performance this season suggested he's poised to establish himself as their starting goalie.

Cap Friendly indicates Samsonov and Vanecek are slated to become restricted free agents this summer with arbitration rights. In a recent mailbag segment, The Athletic's Tarik El-Bashir didn't see how the Capitals enter next season with both goalies still on the roster.

El-Bashir considered Vanecek the better of the two despite his inconsistent play. He suggested the Capitals settle on him, acquire an experienced starter to mentor him and trade Samsonov.

Despite Samsonov's struggles, El-Bashir believes the 6-foot-3, 208-pounder's size and pedigree as a former first-round pick could make him an enticing reclamation project. He noted an unconfirmed rumor before the trade deadline linked Samsonov to the Montreal Canadiens.

If the Canadiens were interested and intend to pursue Samsonov this summer, the Capitals would have to take back a player already under contract to make the dollars fit for the cap-strapped Habs. Perhaps Jake Allen would be a trade candidate. He carries a $2.875-million cap hit for next season and lacks no-trade protection.

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