As we head into training camp, the prevailing thought is that Alex Georgiev will backup Henrik Lundqvist in net. It’s an easy conclusion to draw, since he and Dustin Tokarski are really the only guys with NHL experience that will be at camp.
For most of the summer, I thought the Rangers would bring in a veteran backup for Lundqvist. It wasn’t necessarily about winning games, but it was ensuring Georgiev would have a buffer if his game disappeared. It also ensures Lundqvist gets a rest, something that, as he gets older, is going to be brought into the spotlight.
Tokarski hasn’t seen steady NHL time in a few seasons, so if he’s the insurance policy, then it might be a little bumpy in games that Hank doesn’t start. That’s a big ‘if’ though, since Tokarski probably isn’t going to get much NHL time. Georgiev was solid in his limited NHL time, and perhaps that was enough to convince management that he was ready for a backup role.
What this plan doesn’t cover is injury insurance, specifically long term injuries. If the Rangers are put in a position where Tokarski is on the NHL roster –due to an injury to one of Hank or Georgiev– then the cupboard is pretty bare. Brandon Halverson isn’t much of an option, neither is Chris Nell.
I imagine the Rangers are going to try to get ahead of this concern. I’m expecting some kind of PTO at camp. But even if there isn’t, it’s a problem that can be rectified midseason with a minor trade or a wavier wire pickup. If/When that comes to fruition, we are still looking at a heavy dose of Georgiev this season. That’s not a bad thing, assuming his play last season wasn’t just a small sample size.