Giacomin, Richter, Lundqvist. Goaltending has been the constant and the foundation of great Rangers team since Lorne Chabot stepped into the crease in the 1920’s. The King mans the net today, but Alex Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin are ever ready to take over if called upon.
It feels like forever when a young Swedish 7th round pick played his first game for the Blueshirts. It was 2005 and now 14 years later, he’s a little more grizzled and a tad bit slower but still an elite goaltender. Lundqvist is 2-3 with a solid .912 SV% this season and you can expect his goals against average of 3.25 to improve with the Rangers defense.
Now 37, the goaltender is expected to play around 50 games or less in order to be fresh later in this campaign. His role will continue to diminish heading into the final year of his contract. How much so will depend on the young goalies behind him. What we do know is that Henrik intends to finish out his contract and the Rangers have no intention of asking him to waive his no trade clause.
Georgiev’s path to the NHL is even more surprising then Lundqvist’s who was at least drafted. The 23 year old goalie was never selected by an NHL team and made the Rangers organization after an invite to prospects’ camp. Now Georgiev has some people talking that he should be the starter over Hank. After 3 starts, he is 1-1-1 with a stellar .923 SV% and a 2.69 GAA. In 43 career games those numbers stand at .916 and 2.94. Not bad for an undrafted goalie.
The current back up is in the final year of a 3 year deal and will be an RFA this summer. He will continue to be play 2nd fiddle to the King this season, but of all three goalies, his future is the most uncertain.
His numbers in the KHL were otherworldly but he struggled adjusting to the North American rink sizes and speed of the game. From Travers City through the preseason, Igor showed flashes of being Lundqvist’s heir apparent but wasn’t ready to play a back up role yet. Now with Hartford, Shesterkin who is a mature 23, is showing everyone why he is the likely goalie of the future.
Through 4 games, Shesterkin is the best goalie in the AHL with a perfect record of 4-0. His SV% is a whopping .951 and his GAA is a ridiculous 1.23. If he continues this torrid pace, the Rangers will have almost no choice but to give him a look later this season.
Predicting the Future
The Czar of NY is being groomed to take over for its current King. Later this season, Igor Shesterkin will be called up to split games with Henrik Lundqvist. This will likely happen around the trade deadline on February 24th. That means Alex Georgiev will likely be dealt because two’s company and three’s a crowd.
Jeff Gorton may try and package Georgiev in a larger deal for a maximum return, but reality is that he is most likely to get no higher than a 2nd round pick. Of course, if he continues to play at this level and there are at least 2 teams that feel he is a #1 goalie, a 1st round pick isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Now the biggest question, when will Shesterkin take over the crease at MSG? Next season will not only be the last of Lundqvist’s contract but his last with the Rangers. He may retire at its conclusion, but if he wants to continue playing it will be elsewhere. The Czar will eventually surpass the King mid way through next season and another era of great Rangers goalies will begin.