Life without Lundqvist; a look at the goaltending future of the Rangers
Henrik Lundqvist is 32 years old and Rangers fans are starting to wonder what the team will look like after number 30 calls it a career.
Lundqvist has been the back bone of the Rangers since he joined the club for the 2005-06 season. He holds all the Rangers major goaltending records and is one of the brightest stars in the NHL.
During the 2013 and 2014 drafts, we saw the Rangers start to stock some goaltending talent for the years after Lundqvist moves on from hockey. In the 2 drafts they selected 3 goalies.
Before I get to these guys I want you to know, I’ve excluded Cam Talbot from the discussion. He is excellent, but he is also 27 years old, so its hard to see him as a long term solution as Lundqvist continues to age. When Lundqvist is 38 we will not look at Talbot and say a 33 year old is the future of the Rangers. He could however be an excellent stop gap for one of the guys I mention below. So onto the prospects.
Mackenzie Skapski–Skapski played four years in the WHL and is now getting solid time in the AHL. So far this year he has played in 10 AHL games for the Hartford Wolf Pack. He has a record of 5-3-1 with a 2.30 Goals Against Average and a .914 Save Percentage and 1 Shutout. We provided a glimpse of Skapski’s style during our Traverse City Preview. He is a good sized goalie at 6’3, plays a butterfly and moves well, his issue is that he is streaky. I don’t see Skapski as an NHL starter, but if he improves he could serve as a backup in the future.
Igor Shestyorkin– Shestyorkin is a project, he has incredible skill. He moves around the net very well and has great reflexes. His issue is that he needs to work on the technical side of his game. This just means that he has to have more strategy and consistency so that he isn’t jumping around the crease. He is currently playing in the KHL for Spartak Moscow. He has played in 9 games, and has posted a .903 Save Percentage, with a 2.80 Goals Against Average and 1 Shutout. His current success against men’s competition is encouraging for the Rangers. He is still just 18 and has plenty of time to learn the in’s and outs of goal tending. He is the kind of guy who will either never play in the NHL or one day be an elite goalie.
Brandon Halverson– Halverson is the most likely of the group to one day man the Rangers net as the go to guy. He is a big goalie at 6’4 and he moves well. One of his best assets is that he moves the puck. Aside from that, he battles hard through traffic and has good reflexes. Halverson is in his second year in the OHL with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
So far in his 19 starts he has 14 wins with a .914 Save Percentage a 2.94 Goals Against Average, and 1 Shutout. Like most 18 year old goal tenders he needs to work on the technical side of the position. It is too early to tell if he is the next starter for the Rangers, but at the moment he is the front runner.
Remember folks, the Rangers will likely continue to add to their goaltending talent pool as drafts come and go. These guys are the first wave of candidates, within the next four to five years the Rangers will check in on these guys and see if they have improved enough to start taking work from Lundqvist.
For now, the crease at Madison Square Garden firmly belongs to The King.
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