Alexandar Georgiev, the undrafted wonder, has had a fascinating career in New York. He came out of nowhere, exceeded every expectation, has been discussed as trade fodder, and has played his way into being what some would call a coveted backup goaltender.
So, where does Georgiev stand now?
Everyone was hoping to see Georgiev bounce back after a somewhat disappointing 2019-20 campaign. That year, in 32 starts, he posted a .910 Sv% after an impressive .914 Sv% in 30 starts in 2018-19 — which was his first full season in the league.
Obviously, those are just surface-level numbers. The real test for Georgiev this year was finding more consistency in his game. In many ways, that search for consistency has come to define his efforts to prove that he is more than a backup goaltender at this level after showing flashes of having the goods to at least be a 1B behind a stud like Igor Shesterkin.
It’s also important to keep the context of the COVID season in mind for all of these report cards, especially for rookies and goaltenders. Goalies are often creatures of routine and this year was anything but routine for Georgiev and Shesterkin. With all of that out of the way, let’s dive in.
Georgiev started the season with a 23-save shutout against the New York Islanders. It was one hell of a start. Unfortunately, it didn’t last.
The Bulgarian-born netminder posted the worst save percentage of his career in 2020-21 — a .905 against an average workload of 28.65 SA60 in all situations and a 29.02 SA60 at 5-on-5. Per Evolving-Hockey, his -3.19 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected) among goalies with at least 500 FA ranked 28th in the league.
As it turns out, the Rangers’ defense performed better in front of Georgiev than it did in front of Shesterkin — as a collective, they were at their best when Kinkaid was in net. That’s something to keep in mind when we evaluate Georgiev’s boxcar stats, especially at 5-on-5.
Interestingly enough, Georgiev had the best save percentage on the PK among Rangers’ goalies. In fact, his .891 Sv% on the kill ranked 12th in the league among goalies who saw at least 70 minutes of shorthanded ice time. But he was less effective at even strength and, ultimately, that is why his numbers slid. At 5-on-5, Georgiev finished with a .916 Sv% and a -0.03 GSAA/60. That save percentage put him in the company of David Rittich, Jacob Markstrom, and Sergei Bobrovsky.
Georgiev finished the season with a record of 8-7-2 and two shutouts. At the end of the day, his performance comes down to consistency. He had a .872 Sv% in his five starts in March where he was pulled in back-to-back starts against the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins. His next start? A 26-save shutout in the Rangers’ 9-0 beatdown of the Flyers.
It was a weird year for Georgie. Unfortunately, the average or alarming performances seemed to outweigh the exceptional ones.
Grade | Mike: B-, Banter Staff: C
Looking back on my grade, I may have been too generous giving Georgiev a B-. My first instinct was to be lenient because of the chaos of the 2020-21 season but going back and looking at his season I feel like a C or a C+ is more appropriate. His numbers weren’t great but they weren’t disastrous — that’s hardly a glowing review.
Are Rangers fans spoiled when it comes to goalies because of Henrik Lundqvist and the magic of Benoit Allaire? Sure, but we expected more out of Georgiev because we know he is capable of better. All things considered, he is a perfectly solid backup goalie with numbers that have been trending in the wrong direction. Generally speaking, the eye test has told us the same thing.
A .905 Sv% just isn’t good enough. Save percentage is a flawed way to evaluate goalies but it still tells us a lot when we use it with context. And the context this year is that Georgiev just wasn’t as consistent as he needed to be.
Georgiev, 25, will be an RFA after the 2021-22 season. He is currently taking up $2.425 million (3%) of the Rangers’ salary cap.