The New York Rangers agreed to terms with starting goaltender Igor Shesterkin to a four-year contract. According to Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, the deal will carry an average annual value of $5.65M. Shesterkin was eligible to file for arbitration but decided not to this offseason.
As Seravalli notes, this is the largest second contract for a goaltender in league history. Shesterkin is signing away two unrestricted free agency years with the deal given he is already 25, meaning it was never going to come cheap. The Rangers goaltender finished fifth in Calder Trophy voting this year after posting a .916 save percentage in 35 games, dropping his overall number to .921 in 47 career NHL appearances. That career number is an outstanding one for a young goaltender and one that, if it continues, will have him in the race for other awards in the future.
Success in the NHL shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given Shesterkin’s history at the professional level. In his 117 KHL games before coming to North America, which included three full seasons, he posted an 88-19-15 record, 1.68 goals-against average and .935 save percentage. In his short stint with the Hartford Wolf Pack during the 2019-20 season, he posted a .934 in 25 appearances, going 17-4-3. It’s hard to see anything but stardom in the future for Shesterkin, and the Rangers are betting on it with this huge early contract.
Of course, a commitment like this will raise questions about the other young netminder in New York as Alexandar Georgiev approaches the end of his own contract. The 25-year-old will be a restricted free agent for the final time next summer, coming off his two-year deal signed in 2020. There have been flashes of brilliance from Georgiev too, and with the starting role now blocked for the Rangers, it will be interesting to see if he even entertains a long-term deal, tries to reach free agency as quickly as possible or if GM Chris Drury trades him before the decision needs to be made.
The Rangers exited their rebuild and now intend on competing for the playoffs and the Stanley Cup. Shesterkin was obviously their best chance at that, and he’ll now be locked up through 2024-25. That doesn’t represent the biggest window, given he could potentially leave as a UFA after that, but at least gives the team a goaltender it can feel confident in at a workable (though not inexpensive) price.