Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com has submitted his annual rankings of the top 30 draft-eligible prospects. Check back each day as we prepare for the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida on June 26-27.
|(Photo Credit: IIHF Images) |#24 – ILYA SAMSONOV
Golatender, Magnitogorsk (Russia Jr.)
6’4”, 203 lbs.
Looking to become to first Russian goaltender taken in the first round since Andrei Vasilevskiy (TBL) was chosen 19th overall in 2012, Samsonov cemented his status as the top goaltender in the draft following a sparkling performance at the 2015 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.
There, he posted a 2-1 record, a 2.67 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage to earn the Directorate award as the tournament’s top goaltender. One of those victories came in a 49-save effort over Team USA in the preliminary round.
Samsonov is a package of size and supreme athleticism in the crease. He’s smooth on his feet with excellent goalie vision and puck tracking skills. Like many modern day goaltenders, Samsonov can look over or under screens as he battles to see the puck through traffic.
He’s consistently set square to the shooter, exhibiting proper positioning and rebound control to limit “two for the price of one” opportunities. If his ability to take away the net doesn’t frustrate shooters, his agility and quick limbs certainty do the trick.
Samsonov, who earlier in the year stymied shooters at the World Junior A Challenge with a 1.67 GAA and an impressive .952 save percentage, is signed to a KHL deal through 2016-17. But that shouldn’t prevent him from being selected with a high pick.
Over the course of the next two seasons, expect Samsonov to continue driving his stock as the undisputed top netminder for Russia’s World Junior Championship entries.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects) for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.