It is getting closer and closer to opening night for the New York Rangers. As we inch ever so slowly to the opening faceoff, it is time to look back on the season that just passed.
Next up in the 2018-19 report cards series is backup goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev. Appearing in 33 games for the Rangers last season, he held a 14-13-4 record with two of those wins being a shutout. In addition, the Bulgarian native had a 2.91 goals against average (GAA) and .914 save percentage (SV%). This was all while backing up Henrik Lundqvist for a good majority of last season.
Going into October, Georgiev will have a great opportunity to show what he is worth. His entry-level contract will expire at the end of the season, so his next contract with the Rangers or another team will be gauged upon his performance.
Lets take a look back at Georgiev’s 2018-19 season.
Last season was Georgiev’s sophomore season. He found his stride in the early going with a 4-2 record in his first six games last season. After that, he cooled off over his next eight appearances with a dismal 1-5 record and had a .886 SV%. In two of those appearances, he came in to finish the game after Lundqvist was pulled. He finished the season with strong performances against the Philadelphia Flyers, which was a shutout, the St. Louis Blues and the Pittsburgh Penguins. If he can carry that over into the 2019-20 season, his place and contract with the Rangers for the 2020-21 roster will be a no-brainer.
In 2017-18, he only appeared in 10 games, with nine of those being starts. He finished the season at 4-4-1, with a 3.15 GAA and a .918 SV%. After back-to-back average seasons for Georgiev, this upcoming season is crucial for his place with the Rangers.
It shouldn’t be considered a sophomore slump, but Georgiev didn’t have an incredible season either. While being Lundqvist’s backup, he showed that he can perform at the NHL level. Additionally, he was able to gain a good amount of experience, which is vital for a young goaltender. He is still among the young group of players for the Rangers even though this will be his third year in the NHL.
As Lundqvist’s backup, Georgiev put together a reputable performance in 2018-19. It wasn’t spectacular as a whole, but there were moments of greatness from time to time.
He had to make an incredible amount of saves, in such a short amount of time last season. He had to face a firing squad with each start, as he had an average of 29 saves per game. In eight appearances with the Rangers, he stopped 40 or more pucks from entering the net. For a comparison, Lundqvist had to make 40 or more saves, a total of 12 times, with 19 more games in net than Georgiev.
Georgiev had his best game on his 23rd birthday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He had a great year against Toronto overall, with a 2-1 record, 2.01 GAA and save percentage of .956. In this one occasion on Feb. 10, he recorded a career-high 55 saves. That is the second most for a Rangers goalie in 92 seasons, behind Mike Richter in 1991-92 with 59 saves.
On the other hand, Georgiev also found himself in a bit of a bind at certain points last season. One involved his demotion to the Rangers AHL Team, the Hartford Wolfpack. In 11 games with Hartford, he had an abysmal 2-9 record and struggled more in the minors than at the NHL level.
Finishing out the season, he was 8-5-4 over his last 17 games in net. With a SV% of .929, he put up a solid run to finish the 2018-19 season on a high note. Like the rest of the Rangers roster, there is a lot of hope and risk with Georgiev. But, a good end to a rather ordinary season for him only betters his chances in 2019-20.
Overall Grade: C+
Overall, Georgiev had a good year, but it wasn’t something to write home about. His overall grade for the season is a C+. This grade comes after a middle of the road season, that featured as many ups as it had downs.
The Rangers as a whole were disappointing in 2018-19, and there isn’t one player that should be given a grade of an A. But, in his second season, Georgiev proved his worth as a backup. Now, it is time to see if he can replace Lundqvist as the next starting goaltender of the future.
This upcoming season is a pinnacle one for the Rangers, and that includes Georgiev. He will be set in a backup battle with Igor Shesterkin and his contract is expiring. He has a great chance at being Lundqvist’s successor, but only what happens this season will dictate that. For Lundqvist, he has a chance to rebound from a terrible performance over the past two seasons and guide both Georgiev and Shesterkin.
Will Georgiev be able to take his experiences of last season and beat out Shesterkin for the backup battle? Will he become the successor to Lundqvist? Can he be the next franchise goaltender of the Rangers? All of those questions will be answered by the end of the 2019-20 season.