Dylan Garand has a future with New York Rangers

NHL: Preseason-New York Islanders at New York Rangers
Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

Out of all the riveting stories developing throughout the New York Rangers preseason, one under-the-radar prospect has quietly impressed, goalie Dylan Garand.

The 21 year-old netminder did not see very much action before being sent down to the Rangers’ AHL affiliate (Hartford Wolf Pack). Although, when he was in net, Garand was very solid. In two preseason relief appearances, he made 18 saves on 19 shots, posting a .947 save percentage and a 1.28 goals against average.

On Tuesday, the team announced that Garand has been recalled. He’s expected to serve as the backup for the final two preseason games (Wednesday at NJ, Thursday vs Bos).

Obviously, the fact that he’s still exempt from waivers is the main reason he got the call versus veteran Louis Domingue. However, his play to date earned him the opportunity as well.

Related: 3 Thoughts on the Hartford Wolf Pack Training Camp

Dylan Garand a future number one goalie

Dylan Grand Hartford Wolf Pack
Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

Since being drafted by the Rangers in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL draft, Garand has impressed at every level he’s played at. In the 2021-2022 season playing for the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey league, the netminder finished with a .925 save percentage and a 2.16 goals against average through 45 games ending with a record of 34-9-1. Don’t forget to tack on four shutouts as well.

He followed that up with an 11-5-1 playoff run which saw his save percentage increase to .933 and his goals against average decrease to 1.92. Oh, and three more shutouts. Good enough to earn him CHL goalie of the year honors.

That same season, he helped Canada win the World Junior Championship by going undefeated at 6-0-0 with a save percentage of .925 and a goals against average of 1.98.

Making the jump to his first full professional season, Garand struggled to keep up his impressive numbers. Through 32 games in Hartford he posted three shutouts on his way to a 13-14-3 record along with a .894 save percentage and a 3.01 goals against average. A clear drop-off from the stats he was able to record in Juniors just a year prior.

It has been noted, that Garand thrives in the spotlight. He likes to play when the stakes are high. It can be seen in his increased performance in the WHL playoffs as well as the World Junior Championship. “I love to compete in big games,” was the message from the young netminder last season.

This seemed to hold true as Garand backstopped the Wolf Pack to an impressive run in the Calder Cup Playoffs. In eight games, he notched two shutouts en route to a 5-3 record along with a .935 save percentage and a 1.76 goals against average. This was a drastic increase in performance when looking at his regular season statistics.

This year will be crucial for the development of the Canadian goaltender. He will once again battle with Louis Domingue for the starting spot in the AHL. After his recent playoff performance and strong preseason showing, expect him to get more than the 32 starts he earned last season.

With aging veterans like Domingue and Jonathan Quick being ahead of Garand on the depth chart, seeing him as the future of Rangers goaltending is not farfetched. Especially if he can beat out Domingue as the outright starter in Hartford, Garand may even get the first call-up should Quick or Igor Shesterkin go down with injury.

It would have been nice to see more preseason action from Garand this year as he was off to a great start playing against NHL-caliber talent. That being said, he has quietly developed very nicely over the last several years. A strong season of what is setting up to be a talented Wolf Pack roster could help Garand to improve even more.

With Quick on a one-year deal and Domingue on the last year of his contract, Garand could be eyeing the backup role as soon as next season. He will look to use this season not only as a year to develop, but a year to prove that he belongs under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.

One thing to keep in mind is that both Garand and Shesterkin’s contracts expire at the end of the 2024-2025 season. Should there be any issues with contract talks between the Rangers and Shesterkin, Garand could be looking at the starting role sooner than expected. More likely than not, he will assume the backup role similar to a young Alexandar Georgiev during the end of the Henrik Lundqvist era.

One thing is for sure, the gift of New York Rangers’ stellar goaltending keeps on giving.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh

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