Rangers Must Start Looking Towards the Future in Goal
By Patrick Hoffman
Everyone knows that when it comes to the New York Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist owns the crease.
Since joining the league in 2005, the "King" has broken every Rangers' goaltending record, has set NHL records of his own, and has meant the world to this franchise. In fact, it's hard to imagine where the Blueshirts would be without him.
With all of that said, however, Lundqvist is certainly on the back nine of his career. He just turned 36 back on March 2, his numbers are not where they used to be, and the team in front of him is getting younger, which could mean a lot of tough and long nights ahead for him.
While Lundqvist is still a good goaltender and one who was an All-Star this past season, it is time for the organization to start thinking about the future when it comes to who will be the heir to Lundqvist's throne. It will certainly be a sad day when Lundqvist is no longer between the pipes, but it is a reality that the franchise and their fans will have to face.
Obviously, Ondrej Pavelec, the current back-up goaltender is not the answer. He will turn 31 in August, which is the wrong side of 30, and he really isn't starter material anymore.
The team kind of started going in the right direction in terms of their future in goal when they brought up Alexandar Georgiev from the American Hockey League's (AHL) Hartford Wolf Pack. Georgiev, 22, impressed the Rangers' brass and their fans by playing well in 10 games and showing that he could be a more than solid NHL masked man.
While his record (4-4-1) and bloated goals against average (3.15) don't exactly scream future Rangers' goaltender, his performance between the pipes suggest otherwise. He made a lot of timely saves, kept his team in games they had no business being in,and showed that come crunch time in a tight game, he can get the job done and help his team win hockey games.
Georgiev also finished his short stint with a .915 save percentage. That's pretty impressive considering just how bad the team's defense was after the trade deadline.
With that said, Georgiev is not the true future for this team in net. That title belongs to Igor Shestyorkin.
Shestyorkin, 22, has been an absolute stud in the KHL for SKA St. Petersburg. He went 20-4-4 this season with a sparkling 1.69 goals against average, a .933 save percentage and seven shutouts.
if you can believe it, he was even better the year before as he was 27-4-6 with a 1.64 goals against average, a .937 save percentage, and eight shutouts. This shows that he is consistent and at the NHL level, that is obviously a big thing.
No one is quite sure when Shestyorkin will be coming to Broadway. According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, a source told him that Shestyorkin will have to play out his contract in the KHL, which ends after next season, before coming to New York.
Another solid goaltending prospect that the Blueshirts have is Brandon Halverson. Halverson, 22, did not post the greatest numbers in five games with the Wolf Pack, Halverson has a lot of potential as he has great lateral movement, and knows how to control his rebounds.
It's not like the Rangers need to make a decision right now regarding who will take over for the King when all is said and done. It is never too early, however, to start thinking about who the future will be between the pipes for this franchise.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.