The trade chatter involving the Toronto Maple Leafs as expected will ramp up between now and February 24th, with some rumors having a possibility and making sense and others detached from reality. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas will likely be exploring the market over the next 5+ weeks looking to upgrade his backup goaltending, but the talk about acquiring New York Rangers backup Alexandar Georgiev just does not add up.
Georgiev would be a significant upgrade from current Toronto backup Michael Hutchinson, having handled a 33-game workload last season and splitting time with veteran Henrik Lundqvist this season, and the 23-year-old makes less than Hutchinson in the final year of his entry-level contract, but the price to get him and his level of performance in the NHL thus far are hurdles that make his acquisition troublesome.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported on Thursday that the Leafs among a number of teams that have inquired about Georgiev, but that no offer has been made. In spite of New York carrying three goalies and likely needing to move one before the start of next season, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton has the leverage to ask for an NHL forward in exchange,
While Toronto is heavy on talented forwards and improving their goaltending may be imperative, the Rangers asking price is not something that they would be willing to swap for a backup who might play only 10 to 12 games the rest of the season. It is quite possible that other goalie options (like Anaheim’s Ryan Miller or LA’s Jack Campbell) would open up for a much lower price.
Another factor in adding Georgiev is that he is an arbitration-eligible RFA this summer. Coming off two quality seasons, the Bulgarian netminder will have leverage in negotiating a new deal. If you use a couple previous Lundqvist understudies dealt out of New York in Cam Talbot and Aanti Raanta as examples, their next deal after being dealt was in excess of $4 Million per season.
The Leafs would prefer not to allocate that kind of cap space for a goalie with Frederik Andersen making $5 Million in the final year of his contract next season. Unless Dubas sees Georgiev as an heir apparent to Andersen, Toronto’s likely plan will be to deal for a rental goalie before the deadline and perhaps look to the KHL for an upgrade like Timur Bilyalov in the summer.
Dubas is not opposed to moving Kasperi Kapanen, Alex Kerfoot, or Andreas Johnsson, but as The Athletic’s James Mirtle indicated in his piece on Friday, the Leafs are likely reserving one of them for a deal to acquire the defensive help Toronto desperately needs.
The Leafs renew their old Norris Division rivalry in their final game before the bye week and the NHL All-Star break, as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks at Scotiabank Arena.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe indicated on Saturday morning that there could be some lineup changes, which could mean the debut of Timothy Liljegren or Adam Brooks being inserted into the lineup in place of Martin Marincin, Dmytro Timashov or Frederik Gauthier. Winger Trevor Moore was sent down to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League on a conditioning stint on Friday and could be ready to return to the lineup after the break, along with defenseman Jake Muzzin.
Andersen will make his 39th start of the season, while Corey Crawford will be between the pipes for the Hawks.
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