The heir apparent to Henrik Lundqvist is arriving at Madison Square Garden.
The New York Rangers recalled goaltender Igor Shesterkin from the organization’s AHL affiliate on Monday morning, the team announced.
It was a quick stay in the American Hockey League for the 24-year-old Russian goaltender, who made the jump overseas from the KHL for the 2019-20 season.
He quickly showed his mettle as the star goalie he’s projected to be, posting a 15-4-3 record with a 1.93 goals-against average, .932 save percentage, and three shutouts in 23 games. His goals-against average ranked first in the AHL while his save percentage was second, prompting a selection to the AHL All-Star Game.
Shesterkin has been red-hot as of late, posting a .964 SV% (106 saves on 110 shots) for a 1.99 GAA over his last four games.
The Rangers couldn’t have asked for a more seamless transition to life in North America for their prized goalie prospect. Over the previous six seasons, Shesterkin developed into one of the best goalies Russia had to offer behind an 88-16-7 record, 1.86 GAA and .935 SV%.
At the moment, it is unclear what Shesterkin’s role with the team will be. On paper, he would provide a more viable backup option for Henrik Lundqvist, who is playing out the string of his Rangers career on a rebuilding team thanks to a no-movement clause that will make shipping him to a contender almost impossible for now.
It means the playing time for Alexandar Georgiev could see a considerable drop or disappear altogether. The 23-year-old Bulgarian has flashed signs of legitimacy at the NHL level, but not enough to suggest that he’s a long-term option for the Rangers. He’s 10-9-1 in 20 games with a .909 SV% and 3.17 GAA. Over his last six appearances, he’s 2-4-0 with an even 4.00 GAA and a .866 SV%.
If the Rangers are ready to give Shesterkin a permanent stay in the NHL, a demotion or trade involving Georgiev could follow seeing as the likelihood of moving Lundqvist remains slim. Granted, a demotion for Georgiev would not come without the young netminder clearing waivers first while the Rangers could move Shesterkin as much as they please.
That ensures the top prospect will get enough playing time should initial opportunities dry up at the NHL level.
For the time being, the Rangers will carry three goalies. Shesterkin will start on Tuesday night against the Colorado Avalanche at the Garden.