Heading into the 2022 NHL Draft, it felt like there would be a lot of trades taking place with so many teams pressed firmly against the salary cap. With the draft mere hours away, we have one of our first big trades of the weekend, with the Colorado Avalanche acquiring goaltender Alexander Georgiev from the New York Rangers for a third and fifth-round pick in the 2022 Draft along with an additional third-round pick in 2023.
On the surface, this seems like a lot to give up for Georgiev, who has been a perennial backup for the Rangers. However, many believe that there is more talent yet to be unlocked in the 26-year-old Bulgarian goaltender and that he has simply been stuck behind a logjam of elite goaltending talent with Henrik Lundqvist and now Igor Shesterkin taking over the starting role in New York.
However, if you’re the Rangers, this is a fantastic return for a goaltender that was no longer needed in your system. Not only are three mid-range draft picks great value, but they are also clearing out $2.425 million in cap space, which will allow them to potentially sign a new player in free agency.
Avalanche Securing Goaltending Future With Georgiev
Even if this trade feels like a bit of an overpayment, there are multiple reasons why Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic made this move now. First, this means that the team will not be able to re-sign Darcy Kuemper, the goaltender who helped lead them to their first Stanley Cup in 21 years. While the team clearly wanted to keep him around, he was an unrestricted free agent heading into the offseason, and given his recent success, will likely garner a significant payday in free agency.
Also, Georgiev is a restricted free agent when his contract ends in the 2023 offseason, meaning that the Avalanche will be able to negotiate a new deal with him that could either be long-term if things go great in 2022-23 or short-term if they are just looking to keep him around as a stop-gap while they search out new options.
Either way, the Avalanche now have their goaltending situation figured out. While it’s not ideal to lose your Stanley Cup-winning starter, they already proved that they can win meaningful postseason games with their backup.
Most importantly, this is a sign that Sakic believes that Georgiev is more than just a backup. You don’t give up that package of picks for a player who will just sit on the bench for 50 to 60 games. This will be his chance to prove that he is an NHL starter, and there’s no better team in the league to get this chance with.