The New York Rangers have a good problem they will have to address soon. They have a crease that consists of legend Henrik Lundqvist and youngsters Alexandar Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin. Lundqvist used to be the Rangers rock in the net but is now out of his prime. His Vezina-winning days are past him, and he is now very overpaid compared to his value. Shesterkin and Georgiev look to be the Rangers’ future in net. Shesterkin has already performed as well as some of the top goalies in the NHL, and Georgiev has posted solid numbers for a young goalie. The Rangers will have a decision to make regarding their three netminders, as it will be impossible to keep all of them.
Figuring Out the Future of the New York Rangers Goaltending
The Rangers’ most promising goaltender is Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin is a 24-year-old Russian who is incredible at moving laterally in the crease. Shesterkin possesses outstanding athleticism and is always able to use his reflexes to move to the puck. Due to his dominance in the KHL, he was highly touted coming over from the Russian league. In his 12 games with the Rangers, Shesterkin posted a superb .932 save percentage on a team that gives up a lot of chances. Shesterkin will be the future for the New York Rangers and will help them in a division that will include Carter Hart, Ilya Sorokin, and Ilya Samsonov. These are all very promising young goalies, and all have very bright futures. Although Hart is the best right now, Shesterkin has the potential to pass him and dominate the Metropolitan.
Georgiev is the most interesting goalie in the Rangers’ net. He’s always been in trade discussions due to the presence of Igor Shesterkin. While Georgiev is promising, Shesterkin has that elite potential that Georgiev doesn’t. This would make it easy for the Rangers to trade Georgiev as it is coming from an organizational strength. Like Shesterkin, Georgiev is 24 years old and has a long NHL career ahead of him. Many have rumbled about potential deals linking Georgiev to the Toronto Maple Leafs, where Jeremy Bracco is a popular return. Georgiev has also been linked to the San Jose Sharks, where they desperately need goaltending relief. While Georgiev is a promising young goalie, it’s hard to see where he fits in the Rangers’ plans for the future.
The Rangers would love to keep Lundqvist around to mentor the young Europeans. Lundqvist is one of the greatest goalies of this generation and is a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer. However, Lundqvist is set to make $8.5 million next season, a price that is way too high for a backup calibre goaltender. Both Shesterkin and Georgiev are better goalies at this point, leaving Lundqvist in an awkward situation. The Rangers will need to resign Georgiev, Anthony Deangelo, Brendan Lemieux and Ryan Strome this offseason. Lundqvist’s massive contract will make that difficult, so either a buyout or a trade seems likely. The Rangers have a ton of respect for The King, but his contract and play recently will make it difficult to keep him.
New York Rangers Other Options
The other relevant goaltenders in the Rangers’ organization consist of Adam Huska, Jean-Francois Berube, Tyler Wall and Olof Lindbom. Berube is the only goalie in that group with NHL experience, previously playing games for the New York Islanders and the Chicago Blackhawks.
The other three netminders are young prospects with the potential to one day play behind Shesterkin in a backup role. Huska played multiple years for the University of Connecticut and put up average numbers for the Hartford Wolf Pack this season. Tyler Wall just finished a stellar year at UMass-Lowell where he posted a .931 save percentage in 32 games. Wall was also named a semifinalist for the Mike Richter award presented annually to the best goalie in the NCAA. The Rangers picked Olof Lindbom in the second round of the 2018 draft. Lindbom just finished his first season playing men’s hockey, where he posted a .893 save percentage in the Allsvenskan. Lindbom’s high selection means the Rangers believe he has a chance to play in the NHL one day.
The New York Rangers Goaltending Future
The Rangers are in a good position going forward because they have their elite number one goalie locked in. Igor Shesterkin is staying a New York Ranger and will be the face of their crease for the next decade. Where the Rangers have a decision to make is in their backup goaltender. The best teams in the NHL have two solid goalies they can rely on all the time, the most notable examples being Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak in Boston. Alexander Georgiev is the preferred backup to Shesterkin, but he may demand too much money to play in a backup role. Georgiev has shown lots of potential as a goalie, and he may be above that backup role the Rangers would give him. Lundqvist would also be a good guy to have around, but his contract will make that hard.
The Rangers should keep Shesterkin and Georgiev for next season, and create a young promising duo going forward. If Georgiev ever reaches his starting-level potential, then the Rangers can trade him for assets to support their core pieces. They can then let their prospects battle each other for the backup job. The competition created between their three main prospects will mould one of Wall, Lindbom or Huska into a solid NHL backup. The Rangers will then have an outstanding goaltending duo going forward. These goalies will hit their primes just as the rest of the Rangers will as well. This would create a perfect window of opportunity for the Rangers to win multiple cups.