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2019 Report Card: Alexandar Georgiev

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New York Rangers v Calgary Flames Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Expectations

Alexandar Georgiev appeared in 10 games during the 2017-18 season for the New York Rangers after spending most of the year with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. During his brief stint as the Blueshirts’ backup goaltender, it became apparent that the team had a player who deserved more of a look.

Georgiev struggled early at the AHL level, but he eventually got on the right track and earned his starting job back. He made his NHL debut on February 22, 2018, where he made 38 saves in a 3-1 loss vs. the Montreal Canadiens. Georgiev picked up his first career victory on March 3 making 35 saves vs. the Edmonton Oilers.

The Bulgarian netminder posted a GSAA of 2.08 and a SV% of .930 at 5v5 at the NHL level last year; in all situations he earned an overall record of 4-4-1 with a .918 SV% and 3.15 goals against average. It was clear that Georgiev was going to factor into the goaltending situation, but it’s also fair to say that no one thought he’d play as much as he did in 2018-19.

Performance

Georgiev was still an unknown commodity heading into the season, but he was trusted to make 33 appearances for the Blueshirts, 30 of which were starts. His overall numbers include a record of 14-13-4 with a .914 SV% and a 2.91 G.A.A in all situations. Those numbers don’t tell the whole story about Georgiev though; a goaltender who was often under siege including a 56-shot onslaught on his birthday vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Georgiev’s 5v5 numbers weren’t so great this season, and part of that could be the heightened workload, with part of that being the team that played in front of him. His GSAA was minus-3.67, and his SV% was .915. The reason I said partly is because Lundqvist on the other hand posted a GSAA. of 3.49 (25th among all goalies) and a .922 SV%.

Here’s a quick look at Georgiev’s two seasons to date side by side.

2017-18: 10 GP — .930 SV | 2.65 GAA | 2.08 GSAA

2018-19: 33 GP — .915 SV | 2.83 GAA | -3.67 GSAA

The difference in games played is considerable, and these numbers highlight how Georgiev reacted to an increase in playing time.

With that said, here’s a visual look at how the Rangers generated shots, and defended shots against in front of both Georgiev and Lundqvist.

hockeyviz.com

The Rangers were worse than league average in shot generation in games Georgiev played, and were +21% to the league in shot surrendered. This visual brings back memories of elementary school learning about the planets; particular Jupiter’s great red spot which interestingly enough is “a persistent high-pressure region in the atmosphere of Jupiter.” I’m no Bill Nye, but I see a striking resemblance between the two.

Part of this could be Georgiev’s knack of making kick saves that play the puck back into the slot, but his 5v5 shots against per game 24.93 are just slightly lower than Lundqvist’s 25.17 per game according to Natural Stat Trick so I’m not sure that’s it either.

Overall there appears to be a big difference visually, and that is even more evident in terms of the Rangers’ shot generation. In games Lundqvist played there was consistent pressure around the entirety of the net mouth, whereas it was more sporadic in games Georgiev played.

Some of this could be explained by how Georgiev was used, as he made just 17 appearances in the first 117 days of the Rangers’ season. Over the last 67 days of the Rangers’ season he made 16 appearances, with 11 of these games coming post trade deadline.

The arrival of Igor Shesterkin is going to make things interesting for 2019-20, and how Georgiev is utilized will be interesting. It will likely force some larger decisions for the team, and I analyzed Georgiev in the context of those looming decisions.

From that piece:

The phrase “goalies are voodoo” is one thrown around a lot because it is hard to pin down what you are going to expect for the most part. In Georgiev’s case the charts help explain to a degree why he can have a performance like he did Saturday vs. Toronto while also allowing five goals on 32 shots vs. the Flames.

What we have learned is that Georgiev has some potential, and he’s been baptized by fire playing behind an abjectly horrible defense. It has only been 38 NHL games, but what he’s done in the context of this team could have teams around the league saying, “Georgiev could be a fine fit for us at just $792,500, because we have the structure for him to be successful, and he’s competent in the event our starter gets injured or needs a rest.”

I later added

Georgiev is a fine backup who has responded well to the slight increase in playing time. There is no way of knowing if he will ever be a full time NHL starter who plays in more than 50 games a season, but the Rangers should be selling teams on his potential and results to date.

With that said, what grade should Georgiev get for his season?

Final Grade: B-

Banter Consensus: A-

Last year I gave Georgiev an A- because he was a relative unknown who put up pretty good results in a very small sample. It was hard to settle on a grade for him this year, because he was a 22-year-old goaltender in his second season who started 21 more games than he did the year prior. With that comes some adjustment, and it was trial by fire in front of a bad team.

His performances ranged from very good — like 55 and 44-save wins vs. Toronto — to very bad — like surrendering seven goals vs. Carolina and Columbus — and I personally think a B- fits for him. Year over year — over a larger sample — his 5v5 SV% dipped by 0.15, his GAA increased by 0.18, and his GSAA went from being positive to negative. Some of this could be attributed to not being as sharp due to a larger work load, and part of it could be from teams knowing his tendencies a little bit better. The team’s performance in front of him didn’t help for sure, and I’m interested to see what next year’s numbers look like vs. this years if he appears in 30+ games again.

It would have been nice to see some more consistent deployment over the entirety of the season, and that’s something that could happen in 2019-20. Once he started playing regularly in the second half it was nice to see how he reacted, and it is unfortunate the Rangers didn’t test him sooner than they did.

Georgiev’s been a decent NHL backup to date, but it is still unknown whether he has the ability to be a full time NHL starter. He has played in 43 NHL games to date, and once he reaches 60 total games he is eligible for waivers. At that point he can no longer safely move between Hartford and the Rangers’ roster, so that means the team will have to think long and hard this summer on how they want to proceed. There’s no need to push him out the door, but how they handle him once he’s at his games cap is something the team needs to think about.


Data via NaturalStatTrick

2019 Report Cards: Ryan Strome / Filip Chytil / Brendan Lemieux / Tony DeAngelo / Chris Kreider / Pavel Buchnevich / Neal Pionk / Cristoval Nieves / Kevin Shattenkirk / Marc Staal / Jimmy Vesey / Brady Skjei / Connor Brickley / Vladislav Namestnikov/ Vinni Lettieri/ Brendan Smith / Fredrik Claesson / Assistant Coaches / Henrik Lundqvist