Alexander Georgiev could have been conspicuous by his absence on the day the Rangers disbanded last week, but there wasn’t much suspense in his situation.
Georgiev, the new restricted agent, made no secret that he wanted more playing time than he could give the Rangers. Although the blue jerseys have hung on him during the season, having played 33 games with an 898 save percentage, Offseason gives general manager Chris Drury a chance to find another backup for Igor Shesterkin who might embrace the role.
Whether the 2022-23 season looks more like the 52-30 starting split that Shesterkin and Georgiev had this year or Shesterkin taking a larger slice of the workload is yet to be seen. Shesterkin repeatedly joked that he was surprised by how much he played, and the 72 starts he finished the season with, including the playoffs, outperforming his previous career. But it was effective until the end.
The Rangers were paying Georgiev $2.425 million from AAV, although if they could pay less for his replacement, that would be ideal given their cap crunch elsewhere on the list.
The reserve goalkeeper market is, well, what you would expect for this position. Fine. Here’s a look at some of the Rangers’ options if they choose to go after a free agent.
Probably the best backup this summer, DeSmith has done a great job behind Tristan Jarry and Matt Murray for four years and had a 0.914 savings percentage last season. He’s coming off basic muscle surgery after sustaining an injury in the first game of the playoffs against Rangers, but, if healthy, the numbers would be an acceptable option behind Shesterkin, and his latest deal brought in just $1.25 million.
Jones, 32, is basically a replacement-level goalkeeper at this point, with a savings percentage of 0.986 on the nose for three straight seasons before rising to 0.900 with the Flyers last year. That felt better than Georgiev gave the Rangers, and Jones’ experience in the playoffs – he’s been in the Stanley Cup Finals and won once – could serve the Blues well in the spring.
The former Islanders are having a tough season with the Red Wings, with his saves dropping to a career low of 891 in 31 games. But he’s had success in New York before, and if Shesterkin is willing to take on a heavy workload, playing fewer games can help Greiss be more efficient. Presumably he will need to agree to a salary cut of $3.6 million for his final contract, but it’s hard to see which team would agree to give that to the 36-year-old.
There’s an obvious attraction here: Charlie is Ryan Lindgren’s brother, and he feels safe assuming the two would love to play together in New York. Although he hasn’t had an extended opportunity in the NHL since 2017-18, he had 0.925 savings with the AHL Springfield Thunderbirds during the regular season and won five of six playoff games as well. It makes sense that he could get an NHL shot, so why isn’t anyone with the Rangers?
how are you yaroslav
Hallack, a former islander, is 37 and only played 17 games last season, so it’s hard to see that makes sense if the Rangers want to start the 30 backup again. But if that’s negotiable, Halak might be a valid option, as he has had a savings ratio above 0.900 in each of the past two seasons.
Keith Kinkade / Adam Hoska
If Rangers want to promote from within, Kinkaid and Huska are their options. Kinkaid, who also reached free agency, was higher on the organizational depth chart this past season, although both finished with the same number of starts for the Rangers—one. It would be surprising to see management going in that direction.
Kaapo Kahkonen is a restricted free agent and the sharks are supposed to try to keep him after he is brought on the trade deadline. David Rich, an unrestricted free agent, is coming off a bad season in Nashville, with a 886th savings percentage. Kevin Lankinen, Sam Montembeault and Scott Wedgewood are all unrestricted free agents as well, potentially at a low cost. Ditto Eric Comrey.