Igor Shesterkin contract extension no laughing matter for Rangers

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Florida Panthers
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The last time we saw Igor Shesterkin, the New York Rangers goalie was being consoled by Vincent Trocheck on the bench Saturday night after they lost Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final and were eliminated from the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Florida Panthers.

With roughly 72 hours to decompress, Shesterkin was a bit more jovial on Tuesday at breakup day back in New York. When asked about the possibility of signing a contract extension with the Rangers after July 1, Shesterkin was quick with a quip.

“Sorry, I don’t speak English,” Shesterkin joked, receiving a chorus of laughs from the attending media.

After the scene in Sunrise over the weekend, it was a positive to see Shesterkin smiling with reporters back in New York.

But there could be some difficult moments in the coming weeks and months between Shesterkin’s camp and the Rangers front office led by general manager Chris Drury. Working out an extension should be priority No. 1 for the Rangers, but it won’t be easy, especially after Shesterkin’s unreal performance in these playoffs proved again his current deal at $5.66 million is an absolute bargain.

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Rangers could make Igor Shesterkin highest paid goalie in NHL

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Florida Panthers at New York Rangers
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Post reported recently there was “reason to believe” Shesterkin could be eyeing a deal with an annual value of $12 million. That would certainly reset a goalie market that’s remained fairly stable over the last handful of seasons. Sergei Bobrovsky, who just helped the Panthers finish off the Rangers by allowing two goals or fewer in five of six games in their series, has an average annual value of $10 million per season, part of a seven-year, $70 million contract he signed in 2019.

Carey Price, despite having not played a game 2021-22, is the highest paid netminder in the NHL. The eight-year, $84M deal ($10.5 million AAV) he signed with the Canadiens back in 2017 — like Shesterkin, a year before his previous deal expired — has two years remaining on it.

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevsky, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, has four years left on his eight-year, $76 million pact that nets him $9.5 million per.

Possibly the best comparable for Shesterkin would be another Russia-born goalie who resides in New York: Ilya Sorokin.

The 28-year-old is set to begin the first of an eight-year, $66M contract ($8.25 AAV) with the Islanders this season, though unlike the other names on this list, Sorokin doesn’t have a Vezina Trophy to his name.

It would shock no one if Shesterkin’s deal reaches eight figures. Does eight years and $80M get pen to paper? If that or higher, what does that do to the Rangers salary-cap situation?

There are certainly some big deals on the books for Year 1 of a Shesterkin extension, namely the two-headed monster that is Artemi Panarin ($11.6M) and Jacob Trouba ($8M), both of whom — barring any moves before then — would be entering their final season in 2025-26.

All told, New York is currently on the books for six contracts with AAVs of at least $5.6 million. That of course does not include any new deals signed between now and then.

The good news, though, is the salary cap is expected to rise considerably over the coming years. So while $10 million seems like a large number — and it is — the percent of the cap is the actually the bigger number. Of course, $12 million per season would be a massive investment.

The timing of contract talks couldn’t come at a more opportune time for the 28-year-old, who was New York’s best player throughout the entire playoffs. He finished with a 2.34 goals-against average and .927 percentage, and singlehandedly kept New York alive against Florida in the conference final.

Panthers coach Paul Maurice called Shesterkin’s play “brilliant” in that series.

But Shesterkin sees areas of improvement needed in his game.

“I really enjoyed this playoff,” Shesterkin shared. “But I still think I can play better. Of course, sometimes, easy goals I give up. So, I will work on myself. I will get back stronger next season.”

That’s music to the Rangers ears and almost a threat to the rest of the NHL.

Matt Calamia spent six seasons as a digital content producer and writer for the New York Rangers. Prior to... More about Matt Calamia

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