Editor's Note: This week, NBC Sports Bay Area will theorize hypothetical front-office acquisitions for each of our teams. Today, we examine a potential move the Sharks could make.
The New York Rangers have a surplus of goalies, and that's the position where the Sharks need help most.
San Jose has the NHL’s worst 5-on-5 save percentage (.899) since the start of the 2018-19 season, according to Natural Stat Trick. Of the 69 goalies who have played at least 1,000 5-on-5 minutes during that time, Aaron Dell (.908) and Martin Jones (.894) rank 60th and 68th. That’s not so nice, and the Sharks will need to be better in the crease if they want to return to the playoffs next season.
Enter the Rangers.
New York rode a three-headed monster of handsome face of the franchise Henrik Lundqvist, future face of the franchise Igor Shesterkin and 24-year-old Alexandar Georgiev this season. The Rangers surely won’t carry three goalies again next season with the salary cap likely to remain flat, and the Sharks can benefit.
Here’s how they do it.
Sharks send: 2020 second-round pick
Rangers send: G Alexandar Georgiev
Shesterkin had seized the reigns as New York’s No. 1 (with apologies to Mike Francesa) when the NHL suspended its season in March. Lundqvist, meanwhile, is 37, carries an $8.5 million salary-cap hit and has a full no-movement clause. The former isn’t likely to be traded, and the latter isn’t going to be a long-term solution for the Rangers or Sharks.
Georgiev appears to be the odd man out in New York, and he would fit in San Jose. He’s set to become a restricted free agent this offseason, young enough to fit the Sharks’ desired (rapid) rebuilding timeline and good enough to upgrade the team’s goaltending depth.
In three seasons, Georgiev has posted a .913 save percentage (in all situations) and 3.00 goals-against average. The Rangers haven’t been a great defensive team during that time, including this season. Only 10 goalies (minimum 500 minutes) faced a higher rate of expected goals than Georgiev in 2019-20, according to Natural Stat Trick.
Two of them were his Rangers crease-mates. Dell and Jones were not among the other eight.
Despite that, Georgiev has posted a .918 5-on-5 save percentage in parts of three seasons with the Rangers. That’s by no means elite, but the Sharks don’t necessarily need elite goaltending to get back into playoff contention, nor can San Jose expect to emerge from the cellar of the Western Conference just by addressing its goaltending woes.
Still, Georgiev represents a realistically attainable upgrade in net. The Rangers will get interest around the league, but the Sharks’ second-round pick would be only a handful of spots away from the first round. New York doesn’t currently have a second-round pick, and San Jose’s selection would give the Rangers additional flexibility. Signing Georgiev to an extension won’t break the bank, either, considering this season was the last on his entry-level contract.
Even if the Bulgarian-born Russian doesn’t prove capable of being an out-and-out No. 1 netminder, he can platoon with Jones, whose contract ($5.75 million cap hit through 2024) and modified no-trade clause makes him unlikely to go anywhere. Jones would benefit from a reduced workload, and Georgiev is capable of pushing him. That’s worth the price of a second-rounder.
Dell is due for unrestricted free agency this offseason, so the Sharks likely wouldn’t have a three-headed monster of their own if they traded for Georgiev. He alone won’t fix all that ails the Sharks, but Georgiev would help where they need it most.
That potential peace of mind can’t be underestimated heading into the Sharks’ most critical offseason in recent memory.