For the first time since the early 90s, the NY Rangers have a true goalie competition on their hands. Igor Shesterkin is the heir apparent and is already nicknamed the Czar. He’s excelled in every league he’s played in and looked solid and comfortable in a small sample last year. Alex Georgiev has looked stellar in a bunch of games over the past two seasons and will likely be a good starter in the NHL.
The Rangers have a good problem on their hands. It’s unlikely both goalies don’t pan out, given what we’ve seen so far. If only one pans out, then great! The Rangers have a solid starting goalie. If both pan out, then great! The Rangers have a trade chip. But to get to this point, both goalies need proper evaluation.
A Projected Even Split
The most logical decision for the Rangers is to give each goalie an even split. That means alternating starts for both goalies. Given the circumstances surrounding this season, that may not be a bad idea. That would mean 28 games each for Georgiev and Shesterkin.
The downside to this is the “play the hot hand” approach. Henrik Lundqvist was the backup in 2005 until his play forced the Rangers to make him the starter. Well, that and an injury to Kevin Weekes. Barring injury, there’s a chance both goalies could have play that would otherwise force David Quinn’s hand. How will Quinn manage that?
Ride The Hot Hand
The good thing about young players is that unless they are Lundqvist, they are usually a bit streaky. We’ve seen that with Georgiev, who has had stretches where he’s looked unbeatable. He’s also had some pretty brutal stretches as well.
It’s expected that both goalies will have growing pains. We were spoiled by Lundqvist, who came in without any issues and, quite frankly, didn’t have any throughout the majority of his career. Not everyone is Lundqvist, so expect those growing pains. When those growing pains come, then swapping out for the next goalie seems to work.
This is also a good approach, but it may skew towards one goalie or the other. It may even be drastic.
The Surprise Option
The Rangers could always trade one of Georgiev or Shesterkin. It’s highly unlikely, but let’s say Shesterkin takes a stranglehold on the position. Georgiev may not have even played poorly, but he just wasn’t on Shesterkin’s level. He’d have some trade value. That value may be amplified in a COVID season, depending on how the season plays out.
While extremely unlikely, there’s a non-zero chance that one goalie gets traded at the deadline. Again unlikely, but still a possibility.
This is the first time in close to 30 years that there’s been a true goalie competition for the NY Rangers. It’s a little exciting to see how this might play out.