Three goaltenders the New Jersey Devils could target on the trade market
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By Alex Chauvancy (@AlexC_THW)
When goaltending costs a team as many as 10 wins, it's apparent they need help in net.
That's the dilemma the New Jersey Devils face after Mackenzie Blackwood and Jonathan Bernier missed most of the 2021-22 season with injuries. Even when Blackwood played, the results were far from ideal. The injury may have played a factor in his poor play but it's hard to know until he returns to game action.
Even if Blackwood's injury is part of the reason he's struggled, it appears the two sides may be heading for a divorce this off-season.
In a recent episode of 32 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman reported that hard feelings over Blackwood's vaccination status at the beginning of the season and a difference of opinion for treatment on his heel injury means "it may just be time to move on."
If that's the case, the Devils and general manager Tom Fitzgerald will need to find at least one goalie but more likely two if Bernier can't play again after hip surgery.
With a weak free-agent class, that likely means heading to the trade market for at least one netminder.
While there's still plenty of time before rumors heat up and more names surface, Pierre Lebrun has already speculated on a few goaltenders who could be on the move. Let's look at three he mentioned who could make sense for the Devils.
Georgiev's name has been in the rumor mill for quite some time. With the emergence of Igor Shesterkin, it seems like a trade involving Georgiev is inevitable, given he will be a restricted free agent this summer.
He has a .898 save percentage in 30 appearances and 25 starts this season, but his underlying numbers are actually better than you'd expect for someone with a .898 SV%.
To date, Georgiev has a .916 SV% at five-on-five this season. That places him ahead of names such as James Reimer, Robin Lehner, Linus Ullmark and Semyon Varlamov, to name a few. He's also stopped 2.06 goals above expected at that game state, so he's getting the job done at five-on-five.
Where Georgiev has struggled mightily is shorthanded. He has a goals saved above expected of -6.25 while shorthanded; only Chris Driedger and Karel Vejmelka have been worse goaltenders on the penalty kill this season.
However, that seems to be a one-off. Georgiev has actually been solid on the penalty kill, posting positive goals saved above expected in each of the previous three seasons before 2021-22:
Georgiev has been a solid netminder at five-on-five in each of the last three seasons, having a save percentage no lower than .916. There's probably reason to believe he can rebound on the penalty kill, given his track record shorthanded.
Whether the New York Rangers are willing to deal Georgiev to their Hudson River Rivals remains to be seen, but the Devils should have their eye on him.
He's only 26 years old and should not cost much to re-sign as an RFA, both in dollars and term, or to acquire in a trade.
If he rebounds on the penalty kill, you know you'll get solid netminding from him at five-on-five. That should at least lead him back to being a league-average goalie.
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