Alexandar Georgiev
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

The New York Rangers have a serious and complicated decision to make in relation to Alexandar Georgiev’s Broadway future. 

Frank Curto

The New York Rangers goaltending has never been an issue. The team is currently led by Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev, and with the signing of prospect Igor Shesterkin last month, the Blueshirts employ the goaltending to win the tight games that will come about throughout the season.

Unlike a team such as the Philadelphia Flyers, New York has never really sputtered in the goaltending department through the years.

Ed Mio, Glen Hanlon, John Vanbiesbrouck and Mike Richter are just the few who have stood between the pipes while playing on Broadway. But those are just several nostalgic names that’ll have any Rangers fan giddy. That was then; this is now.

The intriguing part of the equation is Georgiev. Is he ready to be the number one on the Rangers or for another club? How many more wins can he build on the 14 he had last season?

He should earn the backup spot coming out of training camp. Shesterkin, as great as his numbers were in his three years in the KHL, will need an adjustment period in North America. He has acknowledged this and understands that he will spend some time in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack.

For the time being, that leaves the club with Lundqvist and Georgiev to start the year, the same duo as last season, yet with more questions on how much of a workload Hank can handle and is Georgiev ready to play 30-35 games this year?

The Russian goalie, 23, showed that he can play the important games in big situations this past May in the World Championships. The netminder had two wins, both resulting in shutouts while playing for Russia.

Along with his play in Slovakia last month, Georgiev displayed the skill and ability to earn more playing time in the upcoming season. The Rangers know that Hank has only two more seasons remaining and need to continue to raise quality goaltenders in their system.

Georgiev could lead this team should Lundqvist sputter in the early going. A change of the guard is inevitable.

The problem Jeff Gorton and John Davidson will encounter concerns on what to do with Georgiev at season’s end with the Seattle expansion draft on the horizon.

Expansion issues

The real issue the team has to address is the Seattle NHL Expansion Draft in 2021. The rules are identical to the Vegas Golden Knights edition, which means the Rangers can only protect only one of their goalies. The organization will not be able to protect Georgiev.

His contract expires at the end of the 2019-2020 season. He then becomes a restricted free agent, but regardless of that status and a possible new contract, he would be unprotected in the draft. Henrik’s contract will be expired prior to the expansion draft.

Igor Shesterkin would be protected under the expansion rules as he will still be in his second year as a professional.

The problem of having three great goalies in the organization is overlooked by the potential of not having both Lundqvist and Georgiev come the start of the 2021 season. A trade will most likely be the smartest move for JD and the Rangers.

This is probably not something that will happen now. The organization will need to reaffirm that Shesterkin is the real deal who can live up the hype that has traveled from Russia to New York City. Should this be the case, the best thing the Rangers can do is trade Georgiev.

If he has another good season, which is all expected, the Rangers would definitely get a good return for him. The timing of a trade is the most crucial factor.

The other general managers in the league know the situation the Rangers are in: the longer they wait to decide, the less of a return will come their way.

The rules are set and in play. There are very few scenarios in which the Rangers end up with Georgiev in their lineup come 2021. The Rangers and the new Seattle team could work out a deal to have Gerogiev exposed but not selected. That might involve future draft picks and/or current roster players.

As the club looks forward to this year’s draft and free agency, the organization will need to keep the future on their minds.

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