If the Maple Leafs are to acquire Georgiev, it won't be for a roster player

Mike Stephens
NHL analyst
Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares battles for a puck in front of New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. (Photo by Nick Turchiaro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

They say it takes two to tango. Well, the New York Rangers seem content to dance by themselves.

Log on to Twitter at any point over the past week and you’ll learn a surprising new fact: Alexandar Georgiev, the 23-year-old, formerly-undrafted Rangers netminder with 30 wins and a .914 save percentage in 65 career NHL games, is apparently the greatest goaltending talent of our time.

Who knew? A bonafide superstar rose to prominence within a prime NHL media market and we all missed it! Shame on us, really.

Beginning with Elliotte Friedman’s report last week that it would take “more than Jeremy Bracco” to pry Georgiev out of New York, discussions centring around the young netminder’s trade value ahead of February’s deadline have officially reached meme status.

It really do be like that, folks.

No player — regardless of how young or talented they might be — is enough to get this deal done. Opposing GMs, beware: unless you’re willing to part with your most coveted jewel for the Rangers’ third-string goaltender, don’t even bother picking up the phone.

Well, according to Friedman, the Maple Leafs have indeed picked up the phone recently, inquiring about Georgiev in their long-standing quest to obtain a backup puck-stopper who can, you know, stop pucks.

As for whether the Rangers are willing to listen? That’s a different matter entirely.

Here’s the deal: Georgiev is not as valuable as Twitter makes him out to be. That isn’t to diminish his inherent abilities, though. Not at all. Georgiev is a fine big-league goaltender — an asset still young enough to develop who carries a track record of decent on-ice results over his limited career sample to this point. Frankly, the Bulgaria-native only finds himself on the trade block today thanks to some unique organizational factors.

In a normal world, the Rangers would be floating extension offers Georgiev’s way, not dangling him before the masses. But we do not live in a normal world, my friends. Not in the slightest.

The crease at Madison Square Garden is precariously crowded at the moment. As James Mirtle noted in his piece for The Athletic earlier this week, the Rangers are currently carrying three goaltenders on their active roster, creating a host of internal problems that extend well past the allocation of game starts and into lesser-seen facets of daily NHL life such as practice reps, and, even, interpersonal relationships.

These issues aren’t going to just magically vanish, either. With Henrik Lundqvist under contract for another year and top prospect Igor Shestrykin having made the AHL his own personal playground, Georgiev is on the outside looking in.

And despite having three capable goaltenders being a good problem to have, it’s still a problem nonetheless.

How does all of this information impact trade talks? Well, the Rangers’ predicament is far from a secret. The whole league knows of their conundrum, as well as the ever-increasing urgency to solve it. And while no definitive timeline exists for how much longer the Rangers can ride this trio out, the longer the organization waits, the more all three players suffer.

Case in point; New York is NOT working from a position of strength here — which makes the following tweet, sent in reference to a possible Georgiev trade, all the more baffling.

Remember that whole “it takes two to tango” thing? Yeah, this is Jeff Gorton on a solo “Dance, Dance Revolution” bender.

After poking around to uncover if there was any semblance of truth on the above assumption, what I found failed to surprise me: Sources close to the situation indicated that, in any potential trade for Georgiev, the Maple Leafs are not inclined to give up a player from their current roster.

Nor should they. It just doesn’t make any darn sense.

Kasperi Kapanen is an incredibly valuable trade chip — a (seemingly-perennial) 20-goal-scorer with elite speed and penalty-killing ability who the Leafs have locked down to term. Kapanen is also the same age as Georgiev, has more than twice as many NHL games on his resume, and, unlike his net-centric counterpart, will not be staring down the barrel of arbitration this summer. Put Kapanen on roughly 25 other rosters, and he’s likely a slam dunk inductee into their top-six. You don’t move that type of player for someone who might see the ice 25 times a year.

If we’re talking deals, frankly, I’m not sure GEORGIEV can get this one done.

Instead, what this all really boils down to is priorities. Yes, Kyle Dubas must find a way to bolster his goaltending as the Leafs begin their descent down the season’s final stretch. And heck, with Frederik Andersen hitting rock bottom as of late, an upgrade in that department might be even more necessary than originally thought.

But that doesn’t mean the front office should address that need at the expense of logic, either. If the starting point for a Georgiev trade happens to be Kapanen, then there is frankly no trade to make. It’s as simple as that. The deal no longer exists.

Plugging one roster hole only helps so much if it ultimately opens another. The Leafs know this. And if Georgiev is truly destined to don some new blue and white threads this season, it won’t be Kapanen who brought it about.

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