The Clock To Extend Shesterkin Set to Begin for the Blueshirts

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have been blessed when it comes to their last three main starting goaltenders.

In Mike Richter, the Rangers had a player who played a huge part in helping them win their first Stanley Cup in 54 years back in 1994. He was also someone who played very well on several bad Ranger hockey clubs and had his number retired back in 2004.

While Mike Dunham started for much of the 2002-03 season and the 03-04 season, the next real starting masked man for the Rangers was Henrik Lundqvist. All Lundqvist did was win 459 career games, have his number retired by the franchise, and get inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November 2023.

Following Lundqvist is Igor Shesterkin, who is the team’s current starting goaltender. In a very short period, Shesterkin, 28, has shown both the Rangers and the NHL that he is an elite goaltender.

The upcoming season will be Shesterkin’s last under contract, which means he is due to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA). This certainly makes things scary for the Rangers as the team will have a few others to get under contract as well, but make no mistake, Shesterkin will be their priority.

With that said, it is going to cost a pretty penny to ensure that Shesterkin stays with the Blueshirts for a long time. On Saturday, June 29, Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported the following when it comes to Shesterkin and what he is looking for when it comes to his next deal:

“The gulp may be even larger than you imagine with The Post having been told that Shesterkin’s camp is aiming for a contract under which the goaltender would start with 14 percent of the cap, which would equate to a netminding record of $12.9M under an expected $92M cap for 2025-26.”

That is a hefty price to pay for a goaltender, especially because not many elite goaltenders have won the Cup over the last decade or so. Guys like Darcy Kuemper (2022 with the Colorado Avalanche), Corey Crawford (2013 and 2015 with the Chicago Blackhawks), Jordan Binnington (2019 with the St. Louis Blues), Matt Murray (2016 and 2017 with the Pittsburgh Penguins), and Braden Holtby (2018 with the Washington Capitals) all won Cups and it is easy and justifiable to say that Shesterkin is better than all of them.

In the same article linked above, Brooks said that Rangers General Manager Chris Drury needs to get the ball rolling when it comes to working on an extension for their All-Star (2023 and 2024) goaltender before the 2024-25 season begins. There are several reasons why paying Shesterkin either what he wants or close to what he wants will be worth it for the franchise.

For starters, Shesterkin has put up incredible statistics in the regular season since joining the Rangers full-time in the middle of the 2019-20 season. In 213 career games, Shesterkin is 135-59-0-17 with a 2.43 goals-against average, a .921 save percentage, and 15 shutouts.

His finest regular season came in 2021-22. Shesterkin won the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league’s top goaltender, for his performance that year as he went 36-13-0-4 with a 2.07 goals-against average, a .935 save percentage, and six shutouts.

Secondly, Shesterkin has also shown that he can play extremely well in the postseason. In 44 playoff games, he is 23-20 with a 2.41 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage.

He has especially been terrific in the last three playoffs for his hockey club:

2021-22: 10-9 with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage (Lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals)
2022-23: 3-4 with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage (Lost to the New Jersey Devils in the first round)
2023-24: 10-6 with a 2.34 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage (Lost to the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Finals)

Lastly, Shesterkin, like Lundqvist did for his entire career, has shown that he can carry the Rangers to the greatest depths. Yes, they have yet to win the Cup or get to a Stanley Cup Final, but his strong play between the pipes has gotten them close two out of the last three seasons.

There is no doubt that Drury has his hands full going into this offseason and that it will be sure to cause some stressful moments. With that said, getting Shesterkin locked up long-term could alleviate a lot of that stress and put the Rangers in a good position to continue to be Cup contenders going forward.

In this week's episode we talk about Schnieder, Lindgren's future with NYR, and with Drury seemingly done with off seaon moves the outlook of this team.How to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
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  4. Guest Colin Stephenson
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Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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