Breaking down the NY Rangers goalie workloads

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.

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  • OT

    Lots of unhappy people in Rangers as Brett Howden had a very good scrimmage play with Buch and Kreisler.

    Miller looks like he is nailing down a spot in the lineup

    Lafreniere already playing well.

    Lindgren and Fox was the team’s best pair. These two will be tied at the hip for many years.

    • All true Czech. Also, the 3rd line of Lafren/Chytil/Gauthier is beginning to gel. This makes the 4th line a big question. Looks like Howden is at least going to be on the 4th line, possibly leaving Baron on the outside looking in. Got to figure Lemieux is there as well.

      K’Andre and Smith seem to be a decent 3rd pair. Going to be interesting to see where Howden plays once Zibby returns.

    • Have a sneaky suspicion that Howden is going to show a sizable jump in development this year. Regardless, it won’t quiet his detractors.

      • I am hoping that the kid finally puts it together. I guess he was rushed to the big club. He seems to have all the tools. It would be quite nice if his performance jumps!

        • He has all the hallmarks of being a top notch 3rd line player — size, attitude, coachability, skating … he was definitely rushed, 1 year in the AHL would have served him well but that ship is long gone. Regardless I can see him eventually settling into that role by the time he hits 24-25 (if there’s room for him on this team).

      • Nothing will quiet his detractors. There are too many “fans” who feel like the only way they can show us how smart they are is to criticize players (and coaches), even they they don’t have any knowledge of what goes on in the locker room, in the training room, or the meeting rooms.

        • AGAIN! Fast was not the problem It was the stupid coach who misplayed him and the team. I think you have a problem with Rangers fans! Even if we were winning just like AV he was jeopardizing the Rangers success because of his line combination and favoritism just like DQ!!!

  • I think that if you play both goalies with an approximate 50/50 split in games that you will get very good performances from them this season. Georgiev will play closer to his pretty high skill level with regular play. Igor will get eased into his expected #1 role while having a backup who is quite good. Goal tending is going to be a major strength on this club. Do, I see no reason to trade Georgiev at all.

    If they make a run to get in the playoffs and someone is hot, sure go with it until it no longer works. But I expect they will usually alternate most of the season.

    • You have one goalie who is perhaps the best who has ever played the game and another who is perhaps at the level of an average NHL starter. This does scream 50/50 split.

    • The staff probably has an idea of what they want the split to be, but that’s subject to change for any number of reasons. If one goalie has an outstanding game, he’ll probably get the next one no matter what the “schedule” is. Likewise, if he looks tired, or out of sync, they’ll be switched in the next game. I doubt if there’s really a hard number set on who plays how many games, just an estimate.

  • Both Rangers goalies are very good and quite capable of a number one spot but both don’t have a lot of NHL experience. Shesterkin is Russian and Georgiev identifies as being Russian. Between those two countrymen there will be friendly competition and they will both be cheering on one another. With the heavy schedule both should get work. Their performance and durability will determine who gets the number one spot.

  • Sports science suggests that your starter gets two nights off between starts to keep him fresh for the playoffs, so probably a 55-45 split this season.

    Goalie market is interesting. A few teams set up where both goalies will be UFA at end of season and have vet stashed in minors. Carolina in this category. Bruins are a team that could be looking, but not willing to give much because of Rask.

    Most teams have their #1 locked in long term, not looking bar injury. Even then, those teams not dealing unless at top of league and injury happens close to deadline.

    Then there’s teams who don’t have great goaltending hooked up long term and Georgiev would be an upgrade that you would protect. LA, Minnesota, Ottawa & Toronto are teams worth looking at their rosters.

    • Who else do we have in the system who’s ready to step up as the NHL backup goalie?

  • We don’t.

    Wall is *maybe* replacement level, Kincaid as well.

    If the season starts rough, they’ll still battle just to instill NHL compete level with the kids, but sell at the deadline.

  • The key with goalies going forward is you must draft and develop the heir immediately. Goalies should not be signed to long term contracts as free agents. That much cap space should not be tied up with a goaltender. The Rangers did it and came close but ultimately fell short. I am not saying at the time and under the circumstances Hank should not have been signed. Just that going forward we should not be planning to make Shesternik a lifelong Ranger.

    • That totally depends on the number …. nothing wrong with 8 years at say $5-6+M, going from age 25/26 to 33/34. Hank was taking up $8.5M and the contract was signed 7 years ago, when the cap was much less … plus he was already 30.

      • Wouldn’t Shesterkin laugh at that number? He should earn twice that. That may not be apparent now, but it will be by the end of the season.

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