Capitals players say they will ‘miss Sami and Vitek’ as the two young goalkeepers advance with other teams

The National Hockey League can be a tough business. Playing a kid’s game as an adult can get you a king’s ransom, but it also means being treated like a commodity and having to leave your friendships at the door.

Capitals players face the latter as they move into a new year. Over the course of the holiday season, general manager Brian McClellan pressed the eject button and dumped the young goalkeeper’s battery. Ilya Samsonov And the Vitik Vanishek After two full seasons together. Samsonov signed with The Leafs after not making a qualifying bid by Mac while Vanecek was dealt to rival New Jersey. Both players grew up in the development system at Capitals and were a duo with AHL’s Hershey Bears as well.

The Capitals redesigned it by signing the best free agent goalkeeper in the free agent market, 2022 Stanley Cup champion Darcy Kuemper, and reserve Charlie Lindgren requesting a three-year deal. While there is excitement about what these two trends could achieve, many Caps players were noticeably torn over the departure of Sammy and Vitek at the start of training camp.

“I will miss Sami and Vitek,” TJ O’Shea admitted. “When you not only have goalkeepers but any youngster who comes through the organization, you see them go through and you see them grow, becoming a close friend, it’s hard to see them go. I definitely wish them the best and we miss them here.”

One of Samsonov’s closest friends in the team was the center of the first line in Capitals, Evgeny Kuznetsov. The two hunted and played video games together. On the ice, they were often seen talking to each other at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex Training Arena. Cozy, who stayed home in the capital over the summer, admitted that he spent a good part of the vacation with Sami.

“I haven’t said goodbye yet,” said Kuznetsov. “I was with him a lot this summer. And I wish him all the best. As a friend, you always want him to be successful. I hope things go well with him and he plays well. Tough environment (in Toronto) to be around. So far they seem to have good guys Inside the team. They help him and there aren’t many Russian speaking people there, so his English will be better.”

The Capitals’ second game of the regular season comes in Toronto against the Maple Leafs of Samsonov. “I am very excited about that second match. It will start, believe me,” Kuznetsov joked.

Samsonov spoke to the media in Toronto on Thursday for more than five minutes without the assistance of an interpreter. The Russian net coach said he had received several multi-year offers from other teams, but thought signing a one-year deal with “the best organization in the league” was a no-brainer.

Photo: Stephen Ellis /Tweet embed

“I just remember how to play against Levs,” Samsonov said. “I go to the bench after the first half all three games. Everyone knows that this is the best team. The best team to score a lot of goals.”

Samsonov will form alongside veteran Matt Murray this season who came from the Ottawa Senators. Murray, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins, has struggled with injury and has only made 45 games in the last two seasons together.

“Matt and I are both going to have some time,” Samsonov said. “It is a really great opportunity for me. He is a nice guy. We will try to push together. We will want to win with this team.”

Samsonov admitted that he was surprised that Capitals did not offer him a contract over the summer, but “I understand that it’s just business.”

A few hundred miles to the southeast, Vitek Vanecek took to the ice with his new Devils teammates at RWJBarnabas Health Hockey House. Vanecek will battle MacKenzie Blackwood for a starting point as the Devils attempt the playoffs for the first time since 2018. Vanecek married over the holiday season and attended the wedding, capitals defender Martin Fehervary. The trade occurred the day before the event.

“It was really tough,” Vanecek said of the timing of the trade. “I was trying to have the wedding and then I was doing stuff. They probably called me at 3pm and I was trying to figure out everything for the wedding and then I was just calling. My wife asked me who it was? I said it was a GM and I traded and she understands that’s why I didn’t do anything for the party wedding and she does everything on her own. ”

Vanecek will have to endure the same stressful situation he faced in Washington, with whoever plays best between him and Blackwood will get the bulk of the start. “It pressured us a little bit because every game has to play well,” he said.

But VV was excited about the opportunity and having room to grow into the best version of himself.

“I was happy,” said Vanecek. “I know New Jersey is a young team. They have a future, you know? It’s really nice. I hope we can go a long way and get to the Stanley Cup with New Jersey. Young team, young legs. We will do everything for it.”

The Capitals did not win a playoff series while Samsonov and Vanecek were on the team. Samsonov finished with the worst career savings at 896 last season and finished 107th in the league in above-expected saved goals (-12.1) per puck money. Vanecek didn’t do much better, finishing the season with a savings ratio of 0.908 and ending up 84th in the GSAE (-5.4). The duo did not work with the hats.

But that doesn’t mean the farewell wasn’t painful. Both rangers, during their time in Washington, sparked off their talent and showed that they could one day be world class if they developed fully. Samsonov and Vaneshk were also good teammates and liked by other players.

“Every year some new guys come in and change everything that happens,” Alex Ovechkin said. “This is hockey business. You make a friendship and it’s hard to see your friends and good players go away, but we the players, it’s not up to us.”

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