EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The 60-game deadline for goaltender Alexandar Georgiev to be assigned to the minor leagues without having to clear waivers will pass, Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton said Monday. Georgiev, 23, has played 57 career games. He posted two shutouts and allowed four goals in his last four games, and he'll be staying with the Rangers for the foreseeable future.
“It’s not something I’m thinking about right now, no,’’ Gorton said in an impromptu setting at the Rangers’ practice at the Los Angeles Kings’ practice facility. “Georgie’s played well enough to be here. He’s helping us win games, so the clock, in my mind, is not really ticking.’’
There had been speculation that Georgiev, caught between icon Henrik Lundqvist and Lundqvist’s heir apparent, Igor Shesterkin, might be headed to the Rangers’ AHL team in Hartford in order for the team to call up Shesterkin.
But the way Georgiev has played in his last four starts has torpedoed that idea. He went 3-1 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .974 save percentage in that span, including a 5-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday. He is 8-5-1 with a 2.67 GAA and .926 save percentage.
Georgiev said he wasn’t worried about being sent to the minors. “No, not really,” he said. “In my mind, I didn’t even see that as a possibility. You believe in yourself, work hard. I wasn’t really paying attention to that.’’
“Obviously, Georgie’s a big part of our team, right? So he’s playing well, and we’re all happy with the way he’s playing and continues to get better all the time,’’ Gorton said. “So nothing’s really changed. There’s a lot written about who’s here and waivers and all that stuff; we’re just worried about the team playing well and let things play itself out.’’
Asked if he worries that Shesterkin might exercise his return-to-Europe clause and head back to Russia if he isn’t called up from the AHL, Gorton said he isn’t thinking that long-term right now.
“Like we tell all of them: ‘Play well, and then we’ll have to make decisions down the road,’ ’’ Gorton said. “And Igor’s played really well, but it’s still pretty young in his North American pro career. But all signs are good. He’s been good. He’s been a real competitor, his teammates like him a lot, he’s done everything we’ve asked, and I would expect that he would continue to do that and understand — wait for his opportunity.”
Lundqvist said it was a back problem, not an illness, that kept him out of Friday’s scheduled start, “but it’s, yeah, back to normal. It’s good.’’
He said he’s had back trouble before and that it’s no big deal. He just needs to get it treated.
“The plan was for me to play Friday, but that’s the game I couldn’t play,” Lundqvist said. “Yeah, and then we didn’t have a skate Saturday. And also, the way Georgie has been playing, it made [more] sense for him to play [Sunday]. Outstanding job.’’
Lundqvist is expected to start Tuesday against the Kings.
Gorton talks Kravtsov
Gorton also spoke about 2018 first-round pick Vitali Kravtsov, who returned to Russia after failing to make the Rangers out of training camp and being assigned to Hartford. Late last week, Kravtsov was demoted to the minor leagues by his KHL team, Traktor Chelyabinsk.
“He felt like it was in his best interest to go back, and we allowed him to do that,’’ Gorton said. “I will say that we’ve had a number of conversations with his agent recently to revisit what’s best for him right now, and we’ll leave it at that.’’
Gorton said Kravtsov could return to North America if he and the Rangers want that to happen. He declined to say whether he will actively try to bring Kravtsov back.
“I’ll leave it to the conversations I’m having behind the scenes right now, and then we’ll have to make a decision,’’ Gorton said. “But obviously, we want the guy to play. And if he’s not playing enough, then yes, we’d like to control his ice time a little better.’’
Left wing Brendan Lemieux was fined $2,000 for elbowing Vegas’ Cody Glass in Sunday’s game.