It was just a few years ago that Georgiev was a complete unknown to Rangers fans. The undrafted Bulgarian-born Russian goaltender has been a revelation
Heading into the 2019-20 regular season there was a lot of speculation about whether or not Alexandar Georgiev would finish the season as a Ranger. After posting a 14-13-4 record with a .914 save percentage in 30 starts in 2018-19, Georgiev was projected to be the Rangers “1B” in the goal crease. It was still Henrik Lundqvist’s crease, but it was Georgiev’s job — and Igor Shesterkin’s job — to challenge him for starts and give the front office confidence to begin its transition away from the aging legend. Or play his way into being a valuable trade asset. Or, y’know, both of those things.
All in all, Georgiev was pretty good behind a very bad defense.
After a hot start in October, Georgiev was up-and-down in November and December before Shesterkin entered the picture on Jan. 7, 2020. The pending restricted free agent had a .910 Sv% (all situations) while New York had a three-headed monster in the goal crease, which was dragged down by three particularly rough outings against the Islanders, Flyers, and Capitals. In that same window, Georgiev had two stellar starts against the Islanders in which he made 38+ saves. So it was very much a mixed bag, but that has been his M.O. since he joined the team.
Georgiev started in 32 games in 2019-20 and went 17-14-2 with two shutouts. He finished the year with a 3.04 GAA and a .910 save percentage in all situations. At 5-on-5, he earned a .918 Sv%; he posted a .915 Sv% in 2018-19. That put him inside of the top-30 goalies who played at least 1400 of 5-on-5 in 5-on-5 save percentage — in the same neighborhood as Carey Price (.919) and David Rittich (.916).
Generally speaking, Georgiev’s numbers were better than Lundqvist’s but a clear cut below Shesterkin’s. And all three of them were constantly under siege.
Only eight goaltenders faced more shots against per-hour than Georgiev (32.11 SA60) at 5-on-5 this year. While it’s true that his GSAA60 (-0.03) and Sv% (.918) were overshadowed by the likes of Connor Hellebuyck, Jacob Markstrom, and Robin Lehner, it’s important to remember what the expectations were for Georgiev heading into the season. No one was expecting miracles here, especially behind this defense.
Banter Consensus: A-
I was perhaps a bit generous giving Georgiev an “A” for his performance. I gave him points for how he handled the crease after Shesterkin’s injury and the Rangers goalie carousel and I found it difficult to fault him for the sins of the defense. With that being said, an “A-” feels like a better fit for a goalie who was splitting starts with Lundqvist before Shesterkin arrived and then saw more starts when the rookie went down with an injury.
Georgiev wasn’t the Rangers’ backup this year. He was, at the very least, a 1B ... or a 1B.5 ... or something like that. He was also potentially trade bait for some of the year. Maybe. Look, this is hard, okay?
There hasn’t been much discussion about what Georgiev’s next contract will look like, because we aren’t entirely sure it will be the Rangers who are offering him that deal. But he’s a pending RFA and has proven himself very capable of being a 1B in the NHL. Goalies like him don’t exactly grow on trees. If this is indeed the end of King Henrik’s reign, New York would be in good hands moving forward with a tandem of Shesterkin and Georgiev.