Jeff Gorton Faces Amazing Problem Regarding Goaltending
It is no secret that a good goaltending is an important factor in building a team for the future. The Rangers have been lucky to have had such a reliable netminder in Henrik Lundqvist for so many seasons. But as the future inches closer, it is a clear that the tides are changing in Manhattan.
King Henrik will finish his career as a Ranger and no he is not hurting the team in that way. Jeff Gorton and John Davidson have something that most teams do not have in goal: depth.
Alexandar Georgiev has been extremely impressive for the Blueshirts since bursting onto the scene a short while ago. He has reaped the benefits of learning under world class goalie coach Benoit Allaire. His athleticism, focus, and work ethic have made him one of the more exciting names between the pipes over the past couple seasons.
But as solid as he as looked, he will suffer the same fate as Cam Talbot and Antti Raanta. Truth be told, I believe he may have a better future than those two once he leaves New York, but that is besides the point. The key thing here is that at some point he will be traded.
Gorton made it clear this week that he is not doing anything with Georgiev anytime soon as long as the Rangers are winning with him in net. However, this does not mean that Georgiev is part of the future plans.
Future without Hank
In a perfect world, Lundqvist would decide at some point this season that it is time to hang up the skates this summer. This would open up the door for Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin to tag team it, with Shesterkin eventually taking over the starting duties.
However, Lundqvist is most likely not going to do this. He still has a another year on his contract after this season and still looks good enough to play it out. He lives and breathes New York Rangers so he certainly won’t call it quits that quickly.
So no Georgiev in the future. This plan has left many fans considering the option of giving the throne to Shesterkin and letting Hank mentor him while being his backup on a new and cheaper contract. This is also not going to happen. As much as Lundqvist is a team player and a competitor, he is a father and a family man. With just a couple years until 40, I think he’ll take retiring and spending time with his family over backing up a young goalie during the early years of the Rangers next era.
The Czar and More
But that is okay! The world does not begin and end with Lundqvist, Georgiev, and Shesterkin. It is very much a fallacy that the Rangers have to make something work out of these options. Waiting in the in the wings are Adam Huska, Olof Linbom, and Tyler Wall.
Adam Huska is currently Shesterkin’s backup for the Hartford Wolf Pack. The 22 year old Slovakian was drafted in the seventh round back in 2015 and spend several years between the pipes for the UConn Huskies. Huska is 5-1-4 with a 2.54 GAA and a .909 save percentage with the Pack.
Olof Lindbom was drafted 39th overall in the second round back in 2018. The 19 year old Swede is still over in Europe developing. Lindbom has posted a 2.47 GAA and a .915 save percentage with his Swedish team this season.
Tyler wall was a sixth round pick in 2016 and is currently a senior netminder for UMass-Lowell. So far this season he has posted 1.72 GAA and a .945 save percentage in 17 games played. Last season he had a 2.09 GAA and a .921 in 22 games played.
Any of these young goalies can stay in the organization for the foreseeable future as the Rangers backup. And it’s not just the fact that they are goalie prospects, but that they are good goalie prospects. Also, a backup goalie can also be easily signed out of free agency. Where do you think Talbot and Raanta came from?
Georgiev has stood on his head for the Baby Blueshirts. He has had some absolutely remarkable performances. But it will soon be time to say goodbye. This organization has so much depth at that position that it would make very little sense to keep him around and not get a return for him. The Rangers also risk losing Shesterkin to the KHL temporarily if they don’t get him up to the NHL soon.
So the likely plan is not going to be a three goalie tandem or a perfectly timed Lundqvist retirement. Georgiev will get traded either at the deadline or in the offseason, as his value remains high. Next season will consist of Shesterkin and Hank manning the net.
After that? Hank will then probably retire since his contract will be done. Shesterkin will be the new starting goalie and he’ll have a good young backup. That guy could be anyone, but if I had to pick one, I think Huska will follow Shesterkin up to the NHL and remain his backup playing for the Blueshirts.