The Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vegas Golden Knights are three teams with playoff aspirations. The franchises find themselves with unsettled circumstances at their respective goaltending positions with the trade deadline days away. But a potential replacement is available for the organizations in New York Rangers backup Alexandar Georgiev.
Georgiev has not been satisfied with the amount of playing time he has received as the reserve to starter Igor Shesterkin. The Rangers’ number one goalie is having an outstanding season and is the primary reason New York can make the playoffs. The Rangers’ backup has not started many games recently, except for a game on March 8 against the Minnesota Wild and on March 15 versus the Anaheim Ducks.
Georgiev will be with another organization in 2022-23. A team that is needy at the goaltending position may make a trade for him within the next few days. Let’s take a look at why the Rangers have something the Oilers, Maple Leafs, and Golden Knights need in Georgiev.
Oilers Plagued By Inconsistent Goaltending
The Oilers have been dealing with unreliable performances from the tandem of Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith. The 33-year-old Koskinen will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the season, while Smith has one year remaining before he becomes a free agent.
The Oilers’ goaltending concerns will need to be addressed by the trade deadline or during the offseason. Koskinen dealt with criticism from former head coach Dave Tippett, and the fanbase has been critical of his play. Smith has a history of injuries, and there are doubts as to how much more effective he can be in the NHL.
Stuart Skinner has looked like a future number one goaltender for the Oilers during his playing time with the team this season. He is capable of replacing Smith as the backup goaltender to Koskinen. But if the Oilers prefer not to give Skinner a further look in net this year in favor of a more experienced goalie, general manager (GM) Ken Holland may decide to look outside the organization for help at the position. Georgiev has the opportunity to compete for a starting spot in goal for the Oilers. The uncertain futures of the Oilers’ goalies creates a chance for the Rangers’ backup to be the number one goalie beyond this year for Edmonton.
Georgiev claims not playing on a regular basis is preventing him from getting into a rhythm. He alluded to as much in his previous comments after his March 8 start. “I don’t want to rate my game. It’s been frustrating and a bit of a tough streak. Just try to come in and every shot is a new opportunity for me, and just go from there. There’s only one way to be in game rhythm is to play. We’ve been doing some drills with [Benoit Allaire] and working hard in practice. I don’t know what else we can do. That’s maybe for us to think about.”
Georgiev filled in as the Rangers’ starting goaltender in December after Shesterkin missed most of the month with a lower-body injury. He went 3-2-1 and had a 1.92 GAA and a .935 SV%, which are starter-worthy numbers for an NHL goaltender. Based upon his statistics this season, he’s not much of an upgrade over Koskinen. However, if Holland is convinced by Georgiev’s December stats that he is capable of being a starting goaltender, he may offer a second-round draft pick to Rangers’ GM Chris Drury in exchange for him.
Campbell’s Injury Creates Uncertainty for Maple Leafs
Maple Leafs starting goaltender Jack Campbell suffered a rib injury earlier in March. Petr Mrazek and Erik Kallgren are the goaltenders in the starter’s absence. GM Kyle Dubas may decide to trade for another netminder by March 21 if Campbell is not progressing as well as expected and the other goalies prove they are unable to play well consistently.
If the Maple Leafs acquire Georgiev, it is unclear if he remains with Toronto beyond the season. Dubas may bring back Campbell next season on a new contract, and Mrazek has two more years remaining before the end of his deal. Kallgren, like Georgiev, is scheduled to be a restricted free agent (RFA) at the end of 2021-22. The Leafs GM could acquire the Rangers backup in exchange for a second-round draft pick from New York. The Rangers netminder would compete with Mrazek for the starting position if the Leafs think Kallgren is best suited to develop his game further with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League (AHL).
If Dubas signs Campbell to another contract, the Leafs GM could trade Georgiev during the 2022 NHL Draft to another team that could use him as a starting goaltender. The Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes are two franchises that have goaltenders on their respective rosters who will be free agents. If a deal does not materialize between the Leafs and Campbell, the current Rangers backup may have an opportunity to prove he can be the new starting netminder for the Leafs in 2022-23.
Golden Knights’ Lehner on IR again
Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner has been placed on injured reserve (IR) due to a lower-body injury. He missed time previously in February with a separate ailment, a torn labrum, which he will need surgery on. I wrote the Golden Knights could be one of the teams that could use Georgiev due to rumors Vegas had an interest in the Rangers’ netminder.
With Lehner on IR again for the second time in two months, GM Kelly McCrimmon may revisit what goaltenders are available to acquire by the trade deadline. Georgiev could give the struggling Golden Knights a necessary boost as their starter. Backup Laurent Brossoit allowed four goals on 13 shots and did not finish the team’s 7-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on March 15.
The Golden Knights may need to make a trade for another goalie in order to remain in the playoff picture in the competitive Western Conference. The team has several injuries and is currently dropping in the Pacific Division standings. If Lehner needs to remain on IR beyond the minimum time of seven days, McCrimmon may be tempted to make a deal.
The Oilers, Maple Leafs, and Golden Knights are each in the position of qualifying for the postseason. The Oilers represent the best fit of the three teams for Georgiev beyond the rest of 2021-22. The Rangers backup has a chance to be a number one goalie for the Oilers with the uncertainty the team has in Koskinen and Smith remaining with the franchise.