The Leafs are in New York to face the Rangers this evening, and depending on how desperate they’re feeling these days, they could be flying out of the city with a new goaltender in tow.
Links between Toronto and the Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev have been talked about all season to this point, and will only get stronger as the deadline gets closer and especially if Andersen continues to miss games. This is driven by New York having to rectify a three-headed goalie situation, where Georgiev is set to receive a new RFA contract in the summer, but I also think part of it is particularly intriguing for Toronto fans because Georgiev has been a bit of a Leaf killer in the past.
Georgiev has seen plenty of action against the Maple Leafs in his career and has played well, posting a .929 save percentage across five games. That includes both starts against Toronto this season. In the most recent he made 44 saves on 48 shots.
With that in mind, it’s somewhat odd that the Rangers won’t start Georgiev tonight, instead opting for their unofficial third option, Igor Shesterkin. It’s tough to say if this makes things more or less likely to work out with the Leafs in a potential trade this week. Some rumblings around the Rangers suggest the gap is closing on a deal.
So no Georgiev against the team he owns? And Michael Hutchinson set to start who is struggling mightily. Fred Andersen has a neck injury. Toronto teetering with a playoff spot. Call this educated guessing, Georgiev either suits up for Tor tomorrow or leaves after the game w/Tor.
— Forever Blueshirts (@4EverBlueshirts) February 4, 2020
The Marlies scratching of Jeremy Bracco, an often-talked-about target in the Georgiev to the Leafs rumours, isn’t helping tame things down either. Bracco wasn’t in the lineup last night for “personal reasons”, but the open-ended reporting there makes it hard to ignore the possibility of a deal in the works.
Georgiev is a .913 save percentage goalie in only 67 career NHL appearances, so the body of work is small and the numbers are merely solid. But he’s been playing on some porous New York teams and is still just 23 years old.
He’s an intriguing prospect, to be sure. And Toronto has inquired about his availability multiple times this season. But the Leafs need to be careful to not give up too much given it’s difficult to know what, exactly, he can give them long term.
Either way, while this game tonight is extremely important for the Leafs in the standings, the Georgiev storyline is certainly adding another exciting wrinkle to the whole thing. We were relatively confident Toronto might do something to shore up their goaltending ahead of the deadline, but with the way things have shaken out the past few days, they could get out ahead of it and leave town tonight with a new name on the roster.