Rangers Rumors: Candidates to backup Igor Shesterkin next season
The New York Rangers will once again be exploring options for a backup goalie to Igor Shesterkin.
When the Rangers fell to the New Jersey Devils in Game 7, it marked the end of Jaroslav Halak’s one-year deal with the team. With limited cap space, estimated to be around $11,762,918 per PuckPedia, a low-cost replacement is part of general manager Chris Drury’s offseason agenda.
Shesterkin will once again be given the majority of starts for next season, so the ideal backup will play somewhere around 25 games. That requires a certain veteran mindset to be ready to go even if your last start was well over a week ago.
Let’s dive into some potential candidates.
Rangers Rumors: Louis Domingue a consideration?
The Rangers were impressed with how Louis Domingue performed in last season’s first-round playoff match as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was forced into Game 1 after Casey DeSmith was injured and won a triple OT contest on Garden ice. His gutsy performance led to a two-year deal with New York at an AAV of $775,000.
This season, the 31 year-old veteran is a big reason why the Hartford Wolf Pack ended a long playoff drought dating back to the 2014-15 campaign. He did so by posting a record of 22-12-8 record with 4 shutouts, a 2.51 GAA, and a .911 save percentage.
Domingue is also one of those rare goalie who catches with his right hand. That would be a nice change of pace when facing opponents in a home-and-home series.
For his NHL career, Domingue’s numbers stand at 59-60-10 with a 3.04 GAA, and a .905 SV%. Although his salary cap hit would be a perfect fit, the Rangers may want to go with a more proven big league backup.
It’s just nice to know that if they strike out on the free agent market, they will have a fallback option in Domingue.
Free Agent Options
When it comes to veteran goalies that could backup Shesterkin, there’s a few unrestricted free agent candidates that stand out. If the Rangers budget remains the same as this past season, you are looking at netminder willing to take a one-year deal at around $1.5 million.
Here’s my top five:
Jaroslav Halak (2022-23 Stats: 10-9-5, 2.72 GAA, .903 SV%)
If Halak feels like he has one more season in him, the Rangers could easily go back to the well liked veteran. Despite a slow beginning where he won only once in 8 starts (1-6-1), he settled down and rattled off 7 straight wins from December to February to help turn both his and the team’s season around.
Cam Talbot (2022-23 Stats: 17-14-2, 2.93 GAA, .898 SV%)
Talbot is one of two UFA goalies that has played with the Rangers before. In two seasons as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup from 2013-14 to 2014-15, he was superb posting a 33-15-5 record with a GAA of 2.00 and a .931 save percentage. Already familiar with the pressures of playing on Broadway, he could be a nice add if he’s willing to take a pay cut and a lesser role.
Antti Raanta (2022-23 Stats: 19-3-3, 2.23 GAA, .910 SV%)
Another former Blueshirt and Lundqvist understudy is Raanta. He actually replaced Talbot as Hank’s backup for two seasons from 2015-16 to 2016-17. A fan favorite, Raanta posted a record of 27-14-4 with the Rangers. He did so on the strength of a 2.25 GAA and a .921 save percentage. Plus, he’s well versed with the competition in the Metro Division having played with the Carolina Hurricanes the last two years.
Thomas Greiss (2022-23 Stats: 7-10-0, 3.58 GAA, .896 SV%)
Prior to the Rangers inking Halak, Greiss was a goalie that Drury was believed to have his eye on before he signed with the St. Louis Blues. The 14-year veteran struggled last year, but so did the entire Blues team. He’s certainly someone that may be an option if the others don’t pan out.
Alex Nedeljkovic (2022-23 Stats: 5-7-2, 3.53 GAA, .895 SV%)
Once considered one of the top up and coming goalies, Nedeljkovic had a disastrous campaign with the Red Wings. However, this is a goalie that exploded onto the scene with the Hurricanes in 2020-21 recording a .932 save percentage and a 1.90 GAA in 23 games. What better way for him to resurrect his career by signing a one-year deal to backup Shesterkin while learning from goalie guru Benoit Allaire.