Igor Shesterkin is going to force the Rangers into tough decisions

Stellar performance in Hartford showing need for NHL time

When the Rangers signed Igor Shesterkin to his entry level contract, it was clear the Rangers had their heir-apparent to Henrik Lundqvist. The only concern with Shesterkin was whether his stellar KHL numbers would translate to the NHL. After the first two months of the AHL season, all signs are pointing to him truly being the next great Rangers goaltender.

Through 11 starts, Shesterkin has put up equally ridiculous numbers in the AHL. He has a 1.89 GAA and a .931 SV% and one shutout. It’s not just the numbers either, as Shesterkin is making the same crazy saves as well.

The assumed plan for the Rangers has been to give the 23-year-old (24 in December) a full season in the AHL. The Blueshirts would then most likely trade Alex Georgiev in the offseason and promote Shesterkin to the NHL to back-up/split time with Lundqvist before taking over full time duties once Lundqvist’s contract is up. That was the assumed plan. Reality, though, often goes to plan. And no, I’m not advocating for a Lundqvist trade. That was Justin. Please direct all hatred of that to him.

The Rangers face two critical decisions: When to trade Georgiev and when to officially make Shesterkin the starter. On the surface those are the only two decisions, but there are other factors in play. The first is Georgiev’s waiver status, which he will no longer be waiver-exempt after he makes another 8 starts. He will hit that before the calendar year is out. The second is the expansion draft, in which the Rangers must expose a goalie. The latter wild card isn’t overly concerning though, as there are ways around this.

What there is no way around is that Shesterkin is far exceeding expectations in Hartford and isn’t long for the AHL. In a perfect world, the Rangers continue to move forward with the plan, perhaps finding a trade partner at the trade deadline and calling up Shesterkin for the final six weeks of the season. But with Shesterkin performing the way he has, perhaps this means moving the timetable up a bit.

San Jose, with Stanley Cup aspirations, has had absolutely miserable goaltending, and it’s preventing them from truly competing. They are, of course, long term committed to Martin Jones, but that isn’t working out. Georgiev and his controlled salary might be a good fit. This is just spitballing, but with San Jose’s playoff hopes slipping away, a deal sooner rather than later may be in order.

Beyond the Georgiev situation, this impacts The King. Lundqvist is having, given the circumstances of the Rangers being historically bad defensively, a decent-to-solid season. But he’s getting older, and we’ve all seen that even given the circumstances, he’s not the Lundqvist of old. He’s still got it, but at some point the difficult decision to move the starting role to Shesterkin is going to need to be made. If Shesterkin gets his cuppa soon, and he performs at this same level, how can the Rangers justify not keeping him around and giving him the starts he needs? Plus who better to learn from than one of the greatest of all time?

The decision is looming and we know it’s coming. Shesterkin’s performance could make the decision come much sooner than anticipated. It is certainly a good problem to have.

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  • Georgi to San Jose makes a ton of sense. We would have to wait another 2 or 3 weeks, but I would make the deal. Include Lias in the trade and try to get a great pick from them. I would doubt we can get a first rounder, but a 2nd and 3rd for a deep draft may be worth the deal.
    Unclear to me if SJ has any good young centers on their roster.

    • It’ll be tough getting picks from them. They don’t have their 1st this year, Ottawa does from Karlsson trade.
      I don’t think Doug Wilson gets them a goalie until they show a bit more potential, but a low-cost goalie would be his target. Not Hank (sorry Justin).
      With Thornton aging out and Hertl injury prone, they’ll be hoarding centers.
      Is it worth giving up Georgie mid-season for a 2nd or 3rd round pick and a middling prospect? I don’t think so.

  • “Igor Shesterkin is going to force the Rangers into tough decisions”

    Before Jan, 2020, that’s for sure.

    I can see a DeAngelo/Georgie package going somewhere.

  • You can carry 3 goalies on the roster

    And we do have the cap space to keep Igor up for 10 games.

    If he does well, isn’t it that you want the best goalie out on the ice?

    Hank will never accept a trade if he is still the designated starter. But if someone else comes in and plays better then he gets relegated to backup and would hopefully waive his nmc/ntc.

    See I like Hank. I have great memories of him playing. But at some point you gotta go in a new direction and I would like to get some assets out of the deal or benefits.

    Personally I would try to package up him and smith take on half their salaries for some ahl filler. That seems a realistic return for both of them.

  • NY Ranger Truths
    Hank isn’t going anywhere
    You wont get more than a 3rd for Georgi – goalies don’t get big returns
    No one wants Smith
    Tony D may be too expensive to keep, but worth a try
    Skjei won’t be on the team next year
    Krieder & JD will work something out
    Lias will never see the ice again as a NY Ranger

  • “Igor Shesterkin is going to force the Rangers into tough decisions”

    This is a literal word for word quote from at least three of my previous comments.

    You are welcome Dave….

  • Rangers have options and young prospects they can include with vets that need to be moved..

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