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Ilya Samsonov made his way to the biggest stage in hockey during the 2019-20 season, and Washington Capitals professional development coach Olaf Kolzig does not think his ceiling is even close to being touched yet. Kolzig believes that Samsonov could play at the level of Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy in the near future.

"I think Samsonov has the ability to be like Vasilevskiy," Kolzig told the Capitals Talk Podcast last week. "But with the shortened season last year and then obviously Samsonov wasn't healthy when the playoffs started, there's still a little bit of a question mark. Not a question mark, but lack of experience with him, so you need that veteran guy there to A, help guide him along but B, obviously step in."

The 23-year-old is expected to be in a 1A, 1B goalie rotation with Henrik Lundqvist this season. If all goes as hoped, the season is expected to begin around January 1, so NHL fans should be pleased to know that they should be able to see this exciting goaltending tandem in little time.

Vasilevskiy has cemented himself as a top goaltender in the NHL, and if Samsonov can come anywhere near to his ability, the Capitals are going to be an even scarier team. Vasilevskiy also started his career in a similar format, as he was paired with Ben Bishop, before the veteran ended up being traded to the Los Angeles Kings (now with the Dallas Stars).

"He's a still young guy and he's going to have some rough patches, so you need that veteran guy that's going to be able to get in there and do the job because we are a competitive team that still has aspirations of winning another Stanley Cup," said Kolzig, whose 301 wins are first in Capitals history. "You don't want to sacrifice that with having the growth of a young goaltender. I thought for what we got Hank for and what he brings to the table, I thought it was a no-brainer for the organization."

DECEMBER 1, 2020  (13H20)