For a lack of a better phrase, drafting goaltenders can be an absolute (bleepity bleep bleep) show.

And that’s why teams are hesitant to take them in the first round. There have been a few in recent years, like Jake Oettinger, Yaroslav Askarov, Spencer Knight and Jesper Wallstedt. But for the most part, the much-different development path means taking a goalie high in the first round – even if there’s starter potential – is a risk many won’t make.

The 2015 NHL Draft will likely go down as one of the best in NHL history, with the likes of Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Mitch Marner, Zach Werenski, Mikko Rantanen, Kyle Connor, Thomas Chabot, Brock Boeser… you get the idea.

But tucked away at 22nd was Ilya Samsonov, a goalie with 19 games under his belt between the KHL and its junior counterpart, the MHL. He had a decent U-18 World Championship, played well internationally, and was the best goalie available, but some scouts felt reserved about him going that high.

It took a few years for Samsonov to crack the Capitals, and he started off strong with a 16-6-2 record as a rookie in 2019-20. But it went downhill from there, whether it was because of overall inconsistent play or injuries, and last year the team elected not to qualify the guy many deemed to be the franchise’s future.

The Leafs took the questionable route of moving with two goalies coming off rough seasons, trading for Matt Murray and signing Samsonov as a UFA to a one-year deal. The idea was for both to share the net until one of them could eventually take over and be the No. 1. Samsonov held the net early as Murray dealt with injuries, only for them to swap places once Samsonov was injured in November.

By mid-December, Samsonov’s .953 5-on-5 save percentage was tops in the league and near the top in every other category. But in his next five games from Dec. 15 – Jan. 7, Samsonov had a .867 save percentage and minus-4.73 goals saved above average at 5-on-5, placing him 64th out 68 goalies and last out of the 33 goalies to play five games in that span. Murray wasn’t much better, but Samsonov was at the bottom.