Igor Shesterkin off IR, Patrik Nemeth in COVID protocol

Geoff Magliocchetti
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 25: Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers stops a shot in the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden on April 25, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Rangers inched closer to welcoming back their star goaltender but have lost a defenseman to health and safety protocols.

The New York Rangers announced on Saturday that star goaltender Igor Shesterkin has been removed from injured reserve, sending Keith Kinkaid back to AHL Hartford. Additionally, defenseman Patrik Nemeth was placed in COVID protocols.

Shesterkin has not played since leaving Dec. 3’s win over San Jose with a non-contact lower-body injury. His efforts spurred the Rangers’ hot start that currently has them amongst the Metropolitan Division’s elite. Shesterkin had begun traveling with the team on its recent road trip but now returns to the active roster with this move.

Despite missing the last eight games, Shesterkin (13-3-2, 2.05 GAA) continues to pace the NHL’s qualifying goaltenders in save percentage at .937. The Rangers (19-7-4) have performed respectably in his absence, having gone 4-3-1 with the services of Kinkaid, Alexandar Georgiev, and Adam Huska. Georgiev has taken over the primary duties, going 3-2-1 with a .935 save percentage in the seven games since Shesterkin’s injury.

Nemeth, in the midst of his first season with the Rangers after eight prior seasons with Dallas, Colorado, and Detroit, has been placed in COVID protocols, the team’s first entrant in the NHL’s recent uptick in cases amidst the Omicron variant. He has partaken in all 30 games this season, earning two assists on the third defensive pairing.

It should be noted that the Arizona Coyotes, the Rangers’ Wednesday opponent, placed three players on their own COVID list, including Jay Beagle, Lawson Crouse, and Alex Galchenyuk.

For the time being, the Rangers are currently scheduled to take on the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night (7 p.m. ET, MSG). It will be their final game before five scheduled days off for the league’s annual Christmas break.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags