The Unspoken Rangers Trade Chip
Another rebuilding year is underway, and fans and writers alike are trying to pinpoint how successful the Rangers are going to be towards the end of the season. The logical and unpopular opinion is that the Rangers will sell come the February trade deadline and once again pull themselves away from any playoff consideration within the Eastern Conference.
The unspoken trade chip
This realization is most likely not hitting home until the trade deadline and it’s staring us in the face. Many players we are accustomed to seeing game in and game out will be gone. We already saw the departure of pending UFA Vlad Namestnikov earlier this season and with eight more pending free agents on the roster, the team will look significantly different come this next offseason. Talks of Kreider, DeAngelo and Strome are being thrown around as potential big fish trade chips, but the one unspoken pending RFA may fetch a large haul.
Alexandar Georgiev is one of many goalies to break out due to Benoit Allaire’s goalie guru teachings. Off to a solid start to this season, the young Bulgarian netminder is holding his own with decent numbers. Due to the split starts he is receiving with Henrik Lundqvist, the numbers may not tell the entire story. He currently ranks in the 30’s among NHL goalies with his GAA (2.87) and SV% (.913). The smaller sample sizes compared to the other goalies in the league may skew these numbers in a negative light.
Georgiev has started six games this season and played a total of seven. In each of his starts he’s faced at least 30 shots on goal. Despite losses to the Devils (4 goals against) and the Senators (6 goals against), Georgiev has been able to stop the bleeding in his other starts this season by only posting a GAA of 1.50. Hitting the breaks for a second, it’s worth noting that since he has had limited action, these numbers are very skewed. That being said, Georgiev is holding his own even with one of the worst defensive teams skating in front of him.
Starting three games in a row against Tampa Bay, Nashville and Ottawa and coming out of that 2-1 is promising. This shows that he can handle that type of workload to potential suitors in need of a new high-caliber goalie. Not to mention that the loss in that cluster of games, was due to his team practically falling apart right in front of his eyes against the physical and desperate Senators team.
It will be crucial for Alex to get even more back to back starts to get into a rhythm and showcase his talents between the pipes. This is entirely probable due to Hank likely requiring extra rest, and this will give Alex, and the Rangers’ organization, more opportunities to show off.
Georgiev is currently 23 years old (24 in February) and will be entering his prime playing years in the NHL so why even think of trading him? Unfortunately for him this is starting to look like the only option going forward. Henrik’s contract expires at the end of NEXT season along with a full no movement clause that doesn’t expire. The likelihood that he will be gone is slim to none. Also, if you’re about to think “well, he could waive it to go to a contending team”, then think again! Remember, he was given the opportunity to be traded before the rebuild but Hank stood strong with the team that drafted him and decided to stick with them through thick and thin. Therefore, with that option out the window, that leaves only one spot open on the roster for a goalie.
Correction: Georgiev will be eligible after this season for arbitration. Thank you readers for bringing this to my attention. – Anthony
Georgiev now sees his contract up after this season and he is not arbitration eligible. Because of this, we could see another DeAngelo/Lemieux situation where the netminder could hold out as long as possible. Yes, the dynamic duo did end up signing before the season started, but that may not be the case for the Georgiev because there is a goalie waiting in the wings, ready to take the crown away from Hank.
Igor Shesterkin currently resides in Hartford sporting a dazzling 1.83 GAA and a 0.932 SV% good for 6th and 8th in the AHL, respectfully. The Czar understood the situation coming out of the pre-season and embraced it fully. Knowing that there was no room for him on the big club he went into the AHL to continue to prove his worth going forward. Barring any injuries to Hank or Alex, his tenure in the AHL will most likely last all season.
Gaining Goaltender of the Month honors in October, the young Russian looks to build on his success from previous years in the KHL. If the numbers he is putting up right now are sustained throughout his first season in North America, there is no reason to keep him down for another AHL stint. The biggest selling point may be the fact that he will command less than one million dollars against the cap for next year.
Although Georgiev does make 133K less than the Czar this season, we could see a spike in his desired pay come July 1st. This may result in the Rangers deciding to part ways with the young goalie to make room for Igor, therefore losing him for nothing. Instead, the smart move here would be to trade him away earlier and maximize on his solid season.
The way forward
The unfortunate truth is trading Georgiev at the deadline will most likely be the best and only option for everyone going forward. Along with Kreider, Strome, Fast and DeAngelo, adding Georgiev into the mix will result in a huge haul once again for the rebuilding team. Georgiev has been a solid goaltender for the Rangers and a steal of a signing but it seems that his fate is sealed.
With Hank not going anywhere and Igor within striking distance of the backup role, Georgiev is the odd man out. Fortunately, due to his age, the numbers he has put up and the fact that he will still be an RFA following this season, the Rangers will likely receive a decent package for the goalie. Losing a talented goalie with a huge upside is tough, but lucky for the Rangers they seem to always find diamonds in the rough with their netminders. So don’t worry too much when Alexandar Georgiev is eventually traded because there always seems to be another goalie waiting in the wings.