As the season progresses, we will get more insight into how the Rangers plan on managing Henrik Lundqvist’s workload, and what that plan means for Alex Georgiev. Georgiev appeared in 33 games last year while Lundqvist struggled to maintain his god-like form. Georgiev also put up better numbers, both raw and advanced, than Lundqvist, and many see it as a sign that The King is fading and Georgiev is the future. That is, of course, before you account for Igor Shesterkin in the AHL, and the heir apparent to Lundqvist.
If that plan holds true –and there is a lot that needs to go right for Shesterkin next year– then that leaves the Rangers in an interesting position with Georgiev. It is expected that Georgiev will get a 50/50 split with Lundqvist this year, and for good reason. It is also expected that Georgiev puts up very similar numbers to last season, and should improve as the Rangers’ blue line improves. Which again begs the question – what do the Rangers do with him next season?
On his final year of his ELC, Georgiev will be just 24 years old when his contract expires. Lundqvist will have a year remaining on his contract, and it’s safe to say he will play out that final year, his age-38 season. With Shesterkin waiting in the wings, Georgiev might actually be the Blueshirts’ best trade chip next summer.
Now again, a lot needs to go right, which is why the Rangers likely didn’t dangle Georgiev this offseason. Shesterkin is far from a guarantee, and he may even need more than one year before he’s ready for the NHL. Heck, Georgiev might struggle this season and show that he might actually be best served as a backup and not a starter (Not that I think that’s realistic, but hey it might happen.).
That is about 400 words to say that the goaltending plan of the future is fluid. We like to think life in the NHL is like the NHL games, where highly touted prospects are guarantees, injuries don’t really happen, and everyone pans out how they should. Life doesn’t work like that, and Jeff Gorton is hedging his bets against Shesterkin struggling, or even injuries. It’s also worth noting that Georgiev might not fetch as much as we think in a trade, since goalie value is voodoo.
It’s also worth noting that each time a starting goalie like this leaves the Rangers and the tutelage of The Wizard Benoit Allaire, his numbers start great and then tank. Cam Talbot is a great example here. But Antti Raanta took a nosedive last year, albeit due to injuries. Both were in their 30s when they started to decline though, and Georgiev is just 23 years old today. Not exactly apples and oranges, but worth keeping in your back pocket.
The only thing we know for sure is the plan for this year. Lundqvist and Georgiev will get closer to a 50/50 timeshare at the NHL level. Shesterkin and Adam Huska will get the time in Hartford. The rest is for the fates to decide.