Hartnett: Igor Shesterkin Is The Future, Rangers Need To Play Him More

The Young Goaltender Needs To Continue To Develop

Sean Hartnett
January 20, 2020 - 10:15 am
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Despite the strong play of Alexandar Georgiev and the longevity of Henrik Lundqvist, Igor Shesterkin is bound to eventually take over as the Rangers’ franchise goaltender.

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So far, Shesterkin’s starts have been infrequent since his Jan 6. call-up from minor-league Hartford. The Blueshirts are in the awkward position of having to navigate a three-way goalie merry-go-round. Under these conditions, no goaltender will receive appropriate playing time to get into a solid rhythm.

At some point, the Rangers will need to clarify their goaltending conundrum. Perhaps, Georgiev’s rising stock will result in a trade that clears the way for a Lundqvist-to-Shesterkin succession plan and nets the Rangers experienced talents in exchange for Georgiev that can drive the rebuild forward.

Shesterkin is 24. This is the stage of his development where he’s going to require the bulk of the workload to fulfill his potential. His performance in Sunday’s 2-1 home loss to the playoff-contending Columbus Blue Jackets added further belief that he can handle the demands of being a No. 1 goalie.

The Russian stopper turned away 29 of 31 shots against for a .935 save percentage. He was not to blame for either of the two goals surrendered.

Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers plays in his first NHL game against the Colorado Avalanche on Jan. 7, 2019, at Madison Square Garden.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Columbus struck twice through two third-period Oliver Bjorkstrand goals that were the product of Ranger miscues. On the tying goal at 6:08, Jesper Fast mistimed a drop pass that fed a Blue Jackets rush. Artemi Panarin over-skated the puck and Jacob Trouba’s unsuccessful blocked shot attempt screened Shesterkin’s vision.

On the game-winning goal, a mistimed line change by Ryan Strome allowed Columbus to break on a 3-on-2. Strome proceeded to bail out on the play with 30 seconds remaining in regulation, turning a 3-on-3 into an odd-man opportunity for the visitors. It was a horrible way for the Rangers to lose and it denied Shesterkin the opportunity to maintain a perfect record.

Through his first three starts, Shesterkin has posted a 2-1-0 record, a 2.68 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.

The Rangers will face the rival Islanders on Tuesday before having nine days off due to the All-Star break and league-mandated five-day bye week. Their first game back will be against the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 31.

Given the time off, there will be no excuse for David Quinn and his staff not to have a plan in place to get Shesterkin more involved. The rotation of one goaltender starting, another sitting and another dressed in street clothes cannot continue.

Follow Sean on Twitter -- @HartnettHockey

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