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After buying out Lundqvist, Rangers avoid arbitration with Georgiev

Pierre McGuire, Bob McKenzie, Craig Button analyze the biggest storylines going into NHL free agency, including where Henrik Lundqvist and Alex Pietrangelo will end up.

Following the polarizing Henrik Lundqvist buyout, the Rangers completed their short-term goaltending to-do list by signing Alexandar Georgiev to a two-year contract. With this two-year contract, Georgiev, 24, reportedly registers a $2.425 million cap hit.

As with other two-year pacts signed this offseason, this Georgiev deal could settle some Seattle Kraken expansion draft concerns, too.

After the smoke cleared, the Rangers enter 2020-21 with a tandem of Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin (also 24).

Rangers avoid arbitration with Georgiev’s two-year contract

Avoiding salary arbitration with Georgiev is a plus for the Rangers. Granted, a $2.425M cap hit seems a touch higher than expected, yet nothing bank-breaking.

Georgiev recorded a 17-14-2 record with a .910 save percentage in 2019-20. In 77 games over three seasons, the undrafted goalie managed a .913 save percentage.

Factoring in the Rangers’ porous defense, Georgiev comes out looking even better. By Hockey Reference’s version of Goals Saved Against Average, Georgiev prevented 5.1 more goals than expected so far in his career.

By comparison, Lundqvist’s GSAA was in the minus category during three of the past four seasons, while Lundqvist’s save percentage trailed that of Georgiev during their time sharing the Rangers crease.

Around the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, there was some scuttlebutt that Georgiev might get moved. Whether the Rangers merely wanted to keep him or there wasn’t much of a trade market for Georgiev, that obviously didn’t happen.

Shesterkin brings more hype than Georgiev

Still, Georgiev is generally viewed as the less promising of their current goalies.

Shesterkin, a fourth-round pick (118th overall in 2014), put up absolutely dazzling numbers in the KHL from 2016-17 through 2018-19. In 2019-20, Shesterkin maintained that strong work with great AHL numbers. Maybe most promisingly, he even put up a .932 save percentage in 12 NHL games.

So, it’s easy to see why Shesterkin is more highly regarded. None of that means Georgiev can’t carve out a strong presence in the NHL, whether he tops out as a backup, 1B option, or even a starter.

Being that Golden Knights owner Bill Foley spoke of a possible compressed schedule, expect Rangers to lean on both goalies. (Go ahead, make a few Jack Johnson jokes here.)

For all we know, Georgiev might just be the one who lasts. The Rangers will need to watch carefully, as Shesterkin is only signed through 2020-21, while Georgiev is covered for two years.

Plenty of teams would love to face such choices, but it’s important for the Rangers to make the right one(s).

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.