Born: February 22, 1997 Age: 18 Hometown: Magnitogorsk, Russia Height: 6’4’’ Weight: 203 Position: G Team: Magnitogorsk 2 (Russia Jr.) CSS Rank: 1st among International goalies
Ilya Sasmonov is competing with the likes of Mackenzie Blackwood and Daniel Vladar to become the first goaltender selected in the 2015 NHL Draft. While some draft prognosticators predict no goaltender will be selected in the first round for the third-straight year, others believe Samsonov has enough potential to be selected in the top 20.
Against his age group, Samsonov was a dominant presence between the pipes this season. He was voted top goaltender at the Under-18 World Championship, posting a .934 save percentage for Russia. He also posted a .942 save percentage at the Five Nations Tournament.
Samsonov also recorded a 46-save shutout in the bronze-medal game of the World Junior A Challenge to lift Russia to a win against Canada East. He was 2-1-0 in the tournament with a 1.67 GAA and .952 SV%.
NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked International goaltender finished his 2014-15 Russia Junior season with a record of 11-4-1 with a 2.66 GAA and .918 SV%.
Samsonov is a big goalie at 6-foot-4 and 203 pounds. He’s quick, though, and highly competitive.
“He has good size and covers the net well,” said NHL Central Scouting’s Director of European Scouting Goran Stuff. “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.”
Sasmonov models his game after his countryman, Columbus Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. There is a growing opinion that he could be ready to play in the NHL sooner than some of the other goalie prospects in the draft. If he reaches his full potential, he is a franchise goaltender. He is at least likely to be a starter in the NHL some day.
TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button rates his mobility and compete level a perfect 5 out of 5.
“There aren’t many things I don’t like about him,” said one scout, according to The Hockey News. “He’s big, very focused, quick, and technically he’s very solid.”
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button: “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.”
Future Considerations: “Samsonov is one of the best Russian puck stoppers to come along since Tampa Bay prospect Andrei Vasilevsky was on the draft-eligible scene. He has good natural size; thick and strong build, not skinny, imposing in the crease for shooters. He moves well, fluidly getting around the crease. The big Russian stopper is always square to the shot, in strong position and makes good use of his chest protector. He plays an assertive game with an established presence at the top of his crease.”
A scout, according to The Hockey News: “A lot of European goalies this year are kind of laid back in their style. But he’s aggressive.”