I know I’m getting excited again as the Toronto Maple Leafs gear up for another season of hockey. How will the team do on the ice? Can they go further toward a Stanley Cup than they have before?

If there’s a chance to head on a longer Cup journey, the Maple Leafs goalie situation must rise to the task. Can the two goalies do so?

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Ilya Samsonov Was Solid Last Season

This season’s goalie situation seems stronger than last season. One reason is that newcomer Ilya Samsonov had his best season ever. However, this season there’s even more pressure (and more opportunity) on Samsonov to deliver. There is also a great opportunity because he’s on a one-year contract, and he has a lot to prove.

Ilya Samsonov, Maple Leafs starting goalie

Can this season become the perfect storm that helps him solidify himself into the team as one of its leaders?

Samsonov Is the Undisputed Starter

There’s no doubt that this season Samsonov is the undisputed starter and the top goalie in the team depth chart. His first season in Toronto was impressive, and he was able to showcase his exceptional skills on the ice. He was also able to show that he could handle the unique (and sometimes unrelenting) pressure that comes with wearing the Maple Leafs Blue & White jersey.

What makes Samsonov an ideal choice for success in Toronto is his carefree demeanour. He has a personality perfectly suited to the team. He’s both passionate and dedicated to doing well. In short, his actions show that he cares. That matters to Maple Leafs fans.

Samsonov Is Poised for a Breakout Season

I believe that Samsonov is poised for a standout season. And, if he has one, that could change the Maple Leafs’ fortunes.

Last season, Samsonov played 42 games, putting together a strong record of 27-10-5. That record included an impressive 2.33 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. If the team can continue to play good defence in front of him, there’s a chance that Samsonov’s star could shine even brighter.

If can win 35 games and the team also does well, he could potentially become a Vezina Trophy candidate. I believe he has the potential to rise to become one of the NHL’s best goaltenders. If he can, the sky could be the limit for this team.

Related: Three Things Maple Leafs’ GM Treliving Did Right this Offseason

Samsonov Is also Playing for His Next Contract

Given that he’s already been through one arbitration with the Maple Leafs, Samsonov should be fully aware that he’s playing for a new contract. If he can lead the Maple Leafs to success in the crease, he might be able to write his own ticket. There’s just one question: Can he stay healthy?

Ilya Samsonov, Maple Leafs

A healthy and determined Samsonov could work for both his success and the success of his team. He could provide the stability needed to push the team to new heights. There is a chance that he could also solidify his reputation as one of the NHL’s best goalies.

Look for Samsonov to Seize the Chance

The best possible scenario would be that Samsonov could carry the Maple Leafs to a Stanley Cup. If last season was any indication, Toronto fans might just have a reason to believe this could be the team’s season.

It could be a fun season for a long and exciting journey to unfold for this Maple Leafs’ team. That, of course, could start with a steady Samsonov guarding the net.

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