Rangers Recall Top Goalie Prospect Igor Shesterkin from Wolf Pack
On Monday morning, the New York Rangers announced on their official website that they have recalled their top goaltender prospect Igor Shesterkin to the National Hockey League (NHL) roster.
Shesterkin’s promotion comes as a bit of a surprise to fans. Firstly, because many expected Shesterkin would be called up to the NHL at some point towards the end of the season. I for one, did not think Shesterkin would dominate the American Hockey League (AHL) like he has. Shesterkin’s dominance in Hartford and the Rangers’ three-game losing streak are both driving the decision to recall the 24-year-old Russian goaltender at exactly the halfway point of the NHL season.
Wolf Pack Success Under Kris Knoblauch
The Hartford Wolf Pack are coached by Kris Knoblauch. Knoblauch has seven years of coaching experience in the Ontario Hockey League with the Erie Otters and two years as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers. This year under his guidance, the Wolf Pack sit in first-place in the Eastern Conference.
Knoblauch described what his rookie goaltender has meant to his team this season.
“As for his play, I think the highlights and his numbers speak for themselves about how well he’s playing. I believe he’d be our MVP for the first half of the year.”
Shesterkin was drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL Draft by the Rangers. Following the draft, Shesterkin played six seasons in Russia in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) where he had a 1.68 GAA and a 9.35 save percentage– the best in KHL history.
Shesterkin was picked to play in the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic for his remarkable performance to this point. In his first season in North America, Shesty has not dissapointed. Shesty is first in GAA (1.93) and second in save percentage (.932) only to Springfield’s Chris Driedger (.938) who was recalled by the Florida Panthers on Nov. 25.
How Shesterkin Affects Goalie Situation
The Rangers already have two goalies in Henrik Lundqvist, who is in the second-to-last year of his contract, and 23-year-old Alexandar Georgiev. Georgiev has started in almost as many games as Lundqvist and has one more win (10) than the future hall-of-fame goalie who has nine.
It might seem like the Rangers would not be able to keep three goalies on the roster. However, the Rangers are allowed to keep three goalies if they have at least 18 skaters and no more than 23 skaters according to the NHL.com’s “Hockey Operations Guidelines” web-page.
The NHL rules forbid any player who has played over 60 games from being sent down to the minors. Because Georgiev played in his 60th NHL game on Dec. 20 against Toronto, he is no longer able to be sent down and has to be on the NHL roster.
The 24-year-old certainly was playing terrific of late. Shesty has a win in each of his last four games, to go with a 1.00 GAA and a .964 save percentage. He also has a shutout in one of those four games and has allowed one goal or less in each game.
Rangers’ Upcoming Schedule
The Blueshirts will face the Colorado Avalanche tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden for a 7:30 PM puck-drop, before hosting the New Jersey Devils on Thursday evening. The Rangers play ten of their next 13 games on home ice. It will be interesting to see when Shesterkin makes his first start. Odds are, the Rangers will allow him to play in several games before the trade deadline.
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