Things have been busy for the New York Rangers as of late: Igor Shesterkin inked a four-year deal earlier this month. Rangers’ all-time leading scorer Rod Gilbert passed away. Former Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made a surprise announcement, and more.
Shesterkin Signs Four-Year Deal
Shesterkin, a restricted free agent (RFA), signed a four-year contract worth $22.7 million. His new deal comes with a $5.66 million annual cap hit, and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) when the contract expires at the end of the 2024-25 season. The 25-year-old netminder played 35 games last season and finished with a 16-14-3 record. He pitched two shutouts and had a .916 save percentage. The Russian-born rookie finished fifth in Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) voting.
Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller had this to say after news of the signing, stated in the press release announcing the deal:
“It’s huge. Shesty’ is everything for us, Miller said. “He’s been unreal. I’ve only played with him this past year, but the things he’s doing, his work ethic off the ice, are just as good as his work ethic on the ice. He’s literally our backstop. He’s a great leader.”
All-Time Rangers Legend Passes Away
Rod Gilbert, called “Mr. Ranger” by Rangers staff and fans, passed away on Aug. 19. The Montreal, Quebec native was 80 years old. Although born in Montreal, Gilbert became the ultimate New Yorker, and his zest for the game, and fans in the city of New York, endeared him to the people of the Big Apple.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Rod Gilbert – one of the greatest Rangers to ever play for our organization and one of the greatest ambassadors the game of hockey has ever had,” James Dolan, Executive Chairman of Madison Square Garden Sports Corp., said in a release. “While his on-ice achievements rightly made him a Hall of Famer, it was his love for the Rangers and the people of New York that endeared him to generations of fans and forever earned him the title, ‘Mr. Ranger.’ Our thoughts are with Rod’s wife, Judy, and the entire Gilbert family during this difficult time. They will always be a part of the Rangers family.”
Gilbert is the Rangers’ all-time leader in goals and points. He was part of the GAG (Goal A Game) line alongside Jean Ratelle and Vic Hadfield. He is the only Rangers player to have at least 400 goals and 1,000 points while in a Rangers uniform, and finished his Hall of Fame career with 406 goals and 615 assists in 1,065 games.
“Everyone in the Rangers organization mourns the loss of a true New York icon,” Rangers president and general manager Chris Drury said in the same release mentioned above. “Rod’s remarkable talent and zest for life personified this city and endeared him to hockey fans and non-hockey fans alike. Growing up a young Rangers fan, one of the first names I ever heard about was Rod Gilbert – he was synonymous with Rangers hockey. It was an incredible privilege to get to know Rod. His passion and dedication to the Rangers will forever be a source of inspiration for me.”
Lundqvist Decides, “It’s Time”
Henrik, “The King” Lundqvist, decided to call it quits last week. The Swedish goaltender, who played all of his 887 NHL games throughout 15 seasons with the Blueshirts will have his No. 30 retired and hung up in the Madison Square Garden (MSG) rafters.
“It is with mixed emotions that the New York Rangers offer our best wishes and heartfelt gratitude to Henrik Lundqvist on the announcement of his retirement,” The Rangers said in a statement after Lundqvist announced his retirement. “Henrik’s commitment to excellence made him one of the best goaltenders to ever play the game of hockey, and we are so fortunate to have witnessed his greatness firsthand for 15 years. As we congratulate Henrik on an extraordinary career and a lasting legacy of success, charity and character, we are honored to announce that we will retire his number and raise his jersey to the rafters at an upcoming game this season. Henrik is, and always will be, a Ranger.”
Lundqvist had his contract bought out after the 2019-20 season, and subsequently signed with the Washington Capitals. He had hopes of helping The Caps contend for a Cup. However, he was diagnosed with a heart problem and needed open-heart surgery. He was in the process of a comeback and skating after taking several months off. But ultimately, he decided that it’s time to hang ’em up after a stellar career. He won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender for the 2011-12 season, and helped lead the Rangers to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, which the Rangers lost to the LA Kings. The Kings took the series in five games, but four of those games were decided by a goal, and three went to overtime.
Martin New Asst. GM
Drury named Ryan Martin the Rangers Assistant GM and GM of affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack. Martin spent the last 16 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, and 11 of those seasons were as the Red Wings Assistant GM, with eight seasons as the Grand Rapids Griffins GM — the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate. They won the Calder Cup (AHL Championship) in 2016-17 while Martin was their GM.
Shesterkin signed a new deal, while Lundqvist announced his retirement and will have his jersey don the MSG rafters. Gilbert’s passing brought an outpouring of love and affection, and Martin should be a nice asset to the organization. In all, it’s been a busy time in the Big Apple, and training camp is just around the corner.
Scott Blair is an author and journalist from Los Angeles, CA, by way of Detroit, MI. Uniquely diverse experiences have shaped Scott’s life in both of those places he calls home. He is now traveling the world, learning and growing as a human and a writer. He was a professional hockey player and then turned to the arts, becoming an actor for about 15 years. His passions turned to poetry, prose, politics, and journalism when he got tired of the Hollywood machine and what it represents. Scott is available for interviews and welcomes questions and topic ideas.