The New York Rangers have secured the services of their number one goalie, Igor Shesterkin, on a new four-year deal worth $22.6 million. His contract carries an annual average value of $5.66 million, an increase from the $925,000 he earned on the entry-level agreement that went into effect during the 2019-20 season. This new contract breaks a record held by Sergei Bobrovsky, who made $5.65 million on his second NHL contract as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets. (from ‘Rangers agree to historic contract with Igor Shesterkin,’ NY Post, 08/09/2021)
Shesterkin was promoted to the Rangers in 2020, making his much-anticipated debut on Jan. 7 with a win against the Colorado Avalanche. The heir apparent to franchise legend Henrik Lundqvist was tearing it up in the American Hockey League, producing a 17-4-3 record with the Hartford Wolf Pack. In a move to salvage a season slipping away, Shesterkin’s promotion gave the Rangers a chance to clinch a playoff spot thanks to a 10-2-0 record in his first 12 games.
From Moscow with Love
As a junior goalie, Shesterkin started his path to the NHL in Russia’s Junior Hockey League (MHL) with MHK Spartak in 2012-13. He impressed the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) scouts and was drafted into the league as a 16-year-old. After his debut, he returned to the MHL and won the league championship.
Related: 2021 NHL Free Agent Signing Tracker
His career in the KHL continued with SKA Saint Petersburg, where he played five seasons, earning a high ranking among goalies heading into the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Shesterkin’s reputation continued to grow as he played for Russia at the 2016 and 2017 World Championships, earning a bronze medal both times. He was also a member of the 2018 Olympic Athletes from Russia team that captured the gold medal in Pyeongchang.
Shesterkin has not disappointed in 47 NHL games, producing a 26-16-3 record with a stellar 2.59 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. In 2020-21, he finished fifth in Rookie of the Year voting despite missing some time due to injury.
The Future Is Now
Lundqvist departed the Rangers in 2020, opening the door for Shesterkin to take the brass ring. He has stiff competition in his goaltending partner Alexandar Georgiev. However, Georgiev has yet to play consistently long enough to maintain the starting role.
There have been many rumors circling the internet that Georgiev has requested a trade. If this new contract is any indication, the front office believes that Shesterkin is their number one moving forward, and anyone who wants to play in New York will have to settle for a backup or 1B role.
Shesterkin has not disappointed his teammates at any level of his career, whether on a junior or international stage. The Rangers are a team on the rise with veterans like Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad and young stars like Adam Fox and Alexis Lafreniere. Together, this team will gel, and with Shesterkin holding down the fort on the back end, the Rangers can recapture something that has eluded them since 1994, the Stanley Cup.
Ryan Gagne is one of the newest members of The Hockey Writers, covering the New York Islanders. He grew up in a small town in northern New Hampshire, where he idolized the Boston Bruins. Before moving to Canada in 2008, he was the equipment manager for his high school varsity hockey team and a sports journalist for the local newspapers. Ryan has been active in the hockey community, whether coaching, officiating, instructing, or playing. He is the ultimate rink rat with 19 years of experience making ice and driving the Zamboni. An avid fantasy sports player, Ryan created a blog, Keeping the Stats, where he dissects his teams and brags about his 2020 fantasy football championship. Outside of hockey, his life revolves around the New York Yankees, much to his wife’s chagrin.