Taking a look at Adam Huska’s place within the Rangers organization
The 21-year-old prospect completed his junior year with the UConn Huskies in the 2018-19 campaign. Adam Huska was eligible to join the Rangers organization at the conclusion of his third year in Hockey East. Fast forward to the upcoming season, the Slovakian goalie is on an entry-level contract with New York to begin his professional career. The young goalie will be competing for a spot in Hartford. After examining the goaltender situation in the organization, there are many prospects fighting for multiple spots throughout the organization. This is a great problem to have because each goalie will bring their best game to earn and maintain a spot wherever they land.
Adam Huska joins Alexandar Georgiev, Igor Shestyorkin, and potential goaltender signings by New York for Hartford in free agency, presumably a veteran. One prospect will land as the backup of Henrik Lundqvist while the other two will be fighting for the top spot in Hartford. I do not see two prospects in the crease for next season as the Rangers organization is required to send a goalie to Maine in the ECHL. There is no clear path for goalies in the organization which makes for an exciting time and plenty of “what ifs”.
Zooming in on Adam Huska, the prospect is still in the early stages of his development. The prospect has plenty of learning to do to carry him mentally and physically. The road ahead will be tough, but I can see him becoming a solid addition if he is progressing well with the help of the organization.
Personally, I have seen Adam Huska from the early stages of development when he joined the University of Connecticut’s hockey team in the 2016-17 season as a freshman. He was impressive early on, making impressive and stellar saves to keep the Huskies in games against tough Hockey East competition such as UMass-Lowell and Boston College. The Huskies were still the new kids in the block as they joined Hockey East in the 2014-15 campaign. The group struggled and had to rely on their goalies constantly. In his first season, Huska was the backup goalie and posted a 7-9-4 record with 2.87 GAA and a .916 SV%.
In his sophomore year, the prospect became the primary goalie for the Huskies. The prospect was playing well, then had a lengthy injury middle of the season and did not return until the playoffs where he was rusty. UConn was an improved team and Huska in the early stages attempted to help fight the slow start of the season for the group, which did not begin to win consistently until the second portion of the home slate. In 27 games played, the Rangers prospect posted an 8-16-2 record with 2.59 GAA and a .912 SV%. The stats are misleading because a majority of the Huskies losses were in the first half of the season where the talent was there, but the group did not spark until the middle of the season when Huska was injured.
Then we look at last season, his junior year. Huska was back from injury and this was a down year for UConn as many prospects left for their NHL clubs and a good number of seniors left the group. The record of 5-13-2 with 3.34 GAA and .896 SV% is misleading. Yes, he struggled, but it was not all his fault. The Huskies were extremely young with talent. The group was unable to click throughout the season and was continuously on the losing end of the stick. Huska was not performing prior to his injury, but had adjusted his game to become a better goalie for his club. An interesting moment was when UConn’s head coach Mike Cavanaugh decided to take away Huska’s starting job in the middle of the season and became the backup. As a result, he played in fewer games, especially in the second half of the campaign. I am curious to see if that decision raised eyebrows for the Rangers management. Immediately after the Hockey East season ended, Huska joined Hartford through an ATO and signed an entry-level deal effective the following season. In my opinion, I would have let the Rangers keep Huska in Hockey East for another season so he can progress. The Rangers have elected to do that with their other goalie in Hockey East, Tyler Wall with UMass-Lowell. He will play his senior season with the River Hawks.
Throwing in a young prospect into the fire was not the best idea. Adam Huska struggled in the AHL, but gradually felt confident in the crease for the dismal Wolf Pack club. In nine games, Huska had a record of 1-7-1 with a 3.45 GAA and a .889 SV%. Again, this record indicates not his performance, but dealing with a team that was struggling. As we look at next season, there is a lot in the air regarding goaltending situation with the organization.
From Hartford’s standpoint, they must sign a veteran goaltender to help produce a winning team in addition to mentoring a Rangers prospect. The organization cannot go with two young goalies in the AHL, as in the past, has not worked out. Addressing this area of concern must be a priority for Chris Drury. If so, the backup spot would be between the two of the three Rangers talented prospects. Whoever is not performing well enough would report to Maine of the ECHL, which would satisfy the requirements with the affiliation with the Maine Mariners. Of course, these placements are never permanent.
Looking at it from Huska’s standpoint, he faces a tough challenge competing for a spot in Hartford. He is young and needs seasoning at the professional levels. If he starts with Maine, then that is okay because goalies have to start somewhere. Instead of looking at the ECHL as a disappointing assignment, he could look at it as a league where he can enhance his game professionally. If he does well, he can earn himself a call up with Hartford. The situation with goalies could be avoided if the Rangers had Huska stay with UConn for another season. The question is if they wanted eyes on him within the organization. I personally would have him play another season at UConn to continue his development, then takeover after the upcoming season. Igor Shestyorkin and Alexandar Georgiev are dominant goalies. Having Huska compete against them for spots is possibly a losing battle for the young goalie from UConn.
The goalies that Hartford had last season of Chris Nell, Brandon Halverson, and Dustin Tokarski are most likely all gone. The goaltender situation is extremely competitive and there are no needs for these players to return. In Tokarski’s case, the Wolf Pack would look at other veterans as the organization may have rubbed the veteran the wrong way by trading him. However, if he wants to return, that is one less headache to deal with.