Alexandar Georgiev, who is scheduled to go the distance Saturday with the Rangers face the Islanders in Bridgeport, Conn., in their final exhibition match, said he got back onto the ice earlier than usual this offseason following a unique and disappointing 2020-21 season.
“I don’t want to go back to last season. It was tough, it was no fun,” said the Bulgarian-born 25-year-old goaltender, who never gained traction, started only 18 of the 56 games and actually was surpassed for a time on the depth chart by Keith Kinkaid. “I’m super-excited for the new one.
“I want to make a step forward. It’s super, super fun to be back for a full season with a lot of fans.”
Georgiev, who went 8-7-2 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .905 save percentage while ranking relatively low in expected saves and expected goals against, was the subject of much trade speculation over the offseason. He said reports that he had asked to be traded were not true.
“The rumors were false, I don’t know where that came from,” the goaltender said. “You can be dealt pretty much as a player without a no-move clause, so I just worked as usual and tried not to think about it.”
Georgiev is expected to serve as Igor Shesterkin’s understudy, though it’s unknown what the Rangers’ ideal game breakdown would be for their goaltenders. Shesterkin, who is entering his first full NHL season, has never played more than 43 games in a season throughout his career, which began in Russia.
“I just take it one day at a time,” said Georgiev, who added that he thinks labeling goaltenders as No. 1 or No. 2 is overemphasized. “I work hard, I’m excited for the season and I want to play as much as possible.
“I can play as much as possible, but I focus on myself and let the coaches decide what’s best for the team.”