March 3rd, 2024

Maple Leafs waive underperforming goalie Samsonov and Sabres waive Comrie, AP source says

By John Wawrow, The Associated Press on December 31, 2023.

Columbus Blue Jackets' Johnny Gaudreau, top, scores against Toronto Maple Leafs' Ilya Samsonov during overtime in an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 29, 2023, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

The Toronto Maple Leafs waived underperforming goalie Ilya Samsonov, and the Buffalo Sabres ended their three-goalie rotation by waiving Eric Comrie, a person with direct knowledge of the moves told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the teams have not announced the moves. Both players would land in the minors if they go unclaimed on Monday.

Samsonov’s .862 save percentage and 3.94 goals-against average are each the second-worst among goalies with at least 10 appearances. In his most recent action, he allowed six goals on 21 shots Friday in a 6-5 overtime loss to Columbus.

Samsonov acknowledged struggling mentally after he allowed five goals and 19 shots before getting pulled 1:03 into the second period of a 9-3 loss at Buffalo on Dec. 21.

“I need to figure out everything in my head,” Samsonov said. “That’s the first (thing). It’s not about technique. It’s not about, you know, it’s not about nothing. Just in the head.”

The 26-year-old Russian is 5-2-6 in his second season with Toronto after the Washington Capitals opted not to tender him a restricted free agent offer in the summer of 2022. Samsonov went to arbitration with the Leafs last offseason and was awarded a $3.55 million contract, $1.15 million of which comes off their salary cap if he’s sent to the minors.

Buffalo, meanwhile, eases its roster logjam by waiving Comrie. The move frees up a valuable roster spot with forward Zemgus Girgensons ready to return from injured reserve after missing the past 17 games.

Sabres goalies Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and 22-year-old rookie Devon Levi have moved ahead of Comrie on the depth chart, splitting starts over the past 10 games.

Comrie has an .863 save percentage and 4.01 goals-against average in seven appearances. The Sabres have lost the past six games Comrie has started. He has especially struggled since returning from a lower-body injury in mid-November, with a league-worst .827 save percentage and 5.17 goals-against average in four losses.

In his first season with the Sabres, Comrie had a 9-9-1 record with an .886 save percentage and 3.67 goals-against average. He signed a two-year, $3.6 million contract with Buffalo after a career season in 2021-22, when he went 10-5-1 with a .920 save percentage and 2.58 goals-against average for Winnipeg.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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