One of the New York Rangers‘ biggest strengths lies in their goaltending, with Igor Shesterkin standing out as one of the best goalies in the league today. However, since the Rangers traded Alexander Georgiev to the Colorado Avalanche, there has been a significant question mark regarding the team’s backup for Shesterkin. In response, the Rangers signed veteran goalie Jonathan Quick in free agency for the upcoming season.
Quick is an experienced veteran with a distinguished career. However, he faced challenges during the 2022-23 season and is set to turn 38 in January. Given these factors, concerns arise about the possibility of Quick’s decline in performance.
Due to Quick’s age, the Blueshirts will need to have alternative strategies in place for their backup goalie position, preparing for the possibility that the veteran could regress.
The Rangers have plenty of options in the AHL
When examining the New York Rangers and their AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, there are four potential options to consider as a backup for Igor Shesterkin if the Quick signing flops.
The first option is Louis Domingue, a veteran goalie with NHL experience spanning across several teams. Domingue’s track record could make him a reliable choice, especially considering his solid performance with the Hartford Wolf Pack last season. He boasted a .911 save percentage and a 22-12-8 record, demonstrating his capability to step up if needed.
The Blueshirts could also turn to Olof Lindbom, who was selected by the Rangers in the 2nd round of the 2018 NHL Draft. Lindbom’s journey has taken him through various leagues, including the SHL in Sweden and the ECHL’s Jacksonville Iceman. While Lindbom may be a wildcard due to his limited AHL experience, a standout performance in the AHL could potentially earn him a call-up.
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Dylan Garand is another option. He was picked by the Rangers in the 4th round of the 2020 NHL Draft. Garand has split his time between the WHL and AHL in recent years. He even got a chance to play with the Rangers’ main team during the preseason of the 2022/23 season. While his AHL stats show room for improvement with a .894 save percentage and a 13-14-3 record, his flashes of potential make him a contender for a call-up if he can maintain a consistent performance.
The final option would be Talyn Boyko, selected by the Rangers in the 4th round of the 2021 NHL Draft. Boyko has experience in the WHL and could be a long shot for selection, but if he excels in the AHL, he might earn consideration for a call-up.
The Rangers’ decision regarding their backup goalie will likely depend on various factors, including performance, experience, and how well each option fits into the team’s overall strategy. Each goalie brings their own strengths and potential, making the choice an intriguing one to watch unfold.
GM Chris Drury could make a deal at the trade deadline
Being patient and assessing the situation as the season progresses is a wiser strategy for New York. If Shesterkin maintains his form from last season and Quick struggles, the team can wait until the trade deadline to explore potential upgrades.
This approach allows the Rangers to evaluate the performance of both their current goaltenders and consider available options on the market before making any decisions. The NHL season’s progression and how various factors unfold will indeed influence the Rangers’ decisions moving forward.
Signing a Free Agent Is trickier
Signing a free agent is a lot trickier now as the Rangers are in a cap crunch after re-signing Alexis Lafaniere to a 2-year deal. The Blueshirts are currently under the salary cap by only $50k. If the Rangers are aiming to sign another player, they might have to consider attaching draft picks to offload a substantial contract that they currently hold.
However, given the Rangers’ win-now mentality, it’s less likely that they would opt for this approach. The team may be hesitant to part with valuable draft picks in order to make room for new signings.