On Sportsnet’s “Saturday Headlines” segment last night, Elliotte Friedman made it very clear that trade talks are heating up and teams have begun issuing league-wide statements on where they stand ahead of next month’s trade deadline. The top story belongs to the New York Rangers, who have informed their competitors that they are willing to listen to offers for young goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. The team’s stance has changed in just a matter of days since recalling top goalie prospect Igor Shesterkin from the AHL, who proceeded to win his first two starts, including a 46-save performance on Thursday. Shesterkin, though an older prospect at 24, was actually an established superstar in the KHL before coming over this season and looks like the heir apparent to Henrik Lundqvist. Georgiev, still only 23, has performed well in three seasons with the Rangers, but doesn’t project to be the type of player that Shesterkin is, making him expendable. Both Lundqvist and Shesterkin are under contract through next season and the team cannot continuing carrying three goalies that whole time. Additionally, the Rangers have Adam Huska playing well in the AHL in his first pro season, Tyler Wall dominating the NCAA in his senior year at UMass Lowell, and 2018 second-round pick Olof Lindbom waiting in the wings in Sweden. It’s an embarrassment of riches in net for the Rangers’ organization and Georgiev looks like the odd man out.
With that said, New York will not give him away. Friedman reports that the asking price for Georgiev is a young roster forward or a pro-ready forward prospect. The Rangers are looking to add young building blocks up front and feel they can land one young asset by trading away another. Friedman stressed that the Rangers are just listening right now and will wait for a deal to their liking before moving Georgiev. The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, and San Jose Sharks are the teams rumored to be most interested in Georgiev, but are they willing to pay the asking price?
- When it comes to the Sharks, the answer may be no. Friedman reports that the Sharks have let it be known that they are not willing to move any core pieces this season. Friedman cites the 2014-15 campaign, when San Jose last missed the playoffs, as management resisted a tear-down in that year as well and ended up going to the Stanley Cup Final the next season. The Sharks have many good pieces in place and believe they can be contenders again in 2020-21, so they will only entertain trade offers for impending free agents this season. Defenseman Brenden Dillon is a name that is very much in the rumor mill, while fellow blue liners Tim Heed and Radim Simek and forward Melker Karlsson will also be for sale. It remains to be seen whether the Sharks would be willing to move future Hall of Famers Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau or backup goalie Aaron Dell. Moving forward, the Sharks will have to address their issues in net, so perhaps the one exception to their rule about only moving rentals this season could be a deal a top prospect for a new goalie, but they could wait until the off-season to make a move.
- Fans of the Montreal Canadiens don’t want their team to wait any longer to make a trade. The Habs are 2-7-1 in their past ten games and currently in 13th in the Eastern Conference, seven points back of a playoff spot with more games played than all but one of the teams ahead of them in the wild card chase. It seems like all hope is lost for this season, but Friedman reports that the team won’t be making a move any time soon. GM Marc Bergevin is being careful with his next steps, especially when his job could be on the line. He has told potential trade partners that he will wait until after the team’s pre-All-Star break meetings to make a move. Meanwhile, the Canadiens are about to play four games in six nights, during which suitors can see more from potential trade chips, but with those players exposed to the risk of potential injury as well. Montreal will have their “bye week” leading up All-Star weekend, giving Bergevin and company plenty of time to discuss their options, but there is no telling how the trade market could change in the meantime. Eventually, the team will make a decision on their direction in the coming weeks, but there is no expectation as to what that might be. Some have speculated that they could play it safe, opting to deal expiring contracts like grinders Nate Thompson, Dale Weise, and Matthew Peca and recent additions Ilya Kovalchuk and Marco Scandella. Others believe that the team is eyeing a complete rebuild and could move Tomas Tatar, Jonathan Drouin, or Jeff Petry or even ask Carey Price and Shea Weber if they would like to move on. Only time will tell, but that time will come a little bit later than some have hoped.