Expect Henrik Lundqvist’s playing time to decrease with Rangers
Henrik Lundqvist started 52 games for the Rangers last year, and that number might have to be even less next season. It wasn’t a secret that the Rangers struggled as a whole last season, which may be one of the reasons Lundqvist posted his worst goals against average (3.07) of his 14-year career.
However that isn’t the reason his playing time might decrease next season. The finger to point at would be the young goalie prospects that the Rangers have high hopes about – Alexandar Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin.
Young and Rising
We saw a nice dose of Georgiev last year for the Rangers, as he served as the back-up for the entire season, posting 33 starts with a goals against average of 2.91. Since his success last year with the club, there has been plenty of talk what the next move might be with Georgiev heading into the 2019-2020 season.
Of course the arrival of the highly-touted Igor Shesterkin might force the hand of the Rangers, but I don’t think getting rid of Georgiev is what the organization will do. Since he is just 23 years old and showed lots of promise last year, Georgiev will get a number of starts next season, similar to this year, but keeping him in the mix will decrease Lundqvists’ numbers, especially is Shesterkin lives up to the hype.
Igor Shesterkin posted absolutely ridiculous numbers last year in the KHL, with a GAA of 1.11, a save percentage of .953 in 28 starts. He also carried the same type of play into the playoffs for St. Peterburg, posting a 1.95 GAA and .904 save percentage in ten games. Shesterkin has been the prospect that Rangers fans hoped to be Henrik Lundqvist’s replacement, but is he coming to kick Hank right out the door? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Shesterkin is set to come over this summer and participate in the Rangers prospect camp. That will be the first indication whether or not the Rangers might have to mix in a three-goalie set for next season. To assume that Shesterkin is going to make the direct jump from the KHL to the NHL might be a little premature, but with the consistent numbers he posted, that certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
Cutting Hanks Playing Time
The main reason Hank’s starts might be on the decrease even more is if Georgiev and Shesterkin impress on a consistent basis, whether that be in New York or Hartford, and if the Rangers continue to struggle as a whole. Towards the end of last season, David Quinn decided to ride with Georgiev to give him consecutive starts against high-tier NHL clubs, and I don’t see why that situation might not happen again, but this time with both Georgiev and Shesterkin.
The main point is that the Rangers didn’t hesitate when it came to giving Georgiev starts over Lundqvist last season, and they can’t hesitate now since there’s a third potential NHL netminder on the way. The more goalie prospects the better, and the Rangers might have to come up with a cycle that can feed all of the goalies, even if that takes away from the King’s plate.