This season for the Rangers has been a strange one when you talk about the team’s goaltending situation. On one end you have Igor Shesterkin whom is the favourite for the Vezina trophy and should be the favourite for the hart trophy. Igor is on top of the league in most goaltending stats this season and is putting up one of the best seasons the league has seen in over 40 years. On the other hand, you have Alexandar Georgiev, who has had some bright spots this season, most notably when Igor got hurt he stepped up in a big way. But overall he has been really shaky and overall a liability for the Rangers ever since Shesterkin came back in early January. During that span in Georgiev has only started four games where he has put up almost a league worse of a .846 save percentage (SV%) and a -6.05 in goals saved above expected (GSAx) which is ranked 12th worst in the entire league! Along with this, Georgiev will most definitely not be a New York Ranger following this season. So it begs the question, who are some good future backup options that can replace Georgiev after this season is over.
The first goaltender on our list is the only goalie who’s not a pending UFA, and that is Jake Allen of the Montreal Canadiens. After this season Allen will have another year left on a contract that pays him 2.875M which is relatively cheap considering the goaltender you’re getting in Jake Allen. On a struggling Habs team, Allen has played 24 games with a .901 SV% and -4.47 in GSAx which is ranked 68th in the entire league. These numbers could turn you off, but remember he is on the worst defensive team in hockey so we have to take that into context. To add, Allen is known to be an inconsistent goaltender but when on his game, he can start a few consecutive games. Overall, this is probably the best backup option for the Rangers especially for the price you could get him at.
Current Penguins backup Casey DeSmith is someone I don’t see leaving Pittsburgh, but if he does, he’ll be a very interesting option for the Rangers. DeSmith has played 15 games this season and has a .905 SV% and a -3.71 in GSAx. He hasn’t been very good this season, but looking at him just last year and the year before he had back to back seasons where his SV% was over .910, and a positive GSAx. This is all “what if’s”, but if goaltending guru Benoit Allaire can re-unlock that form for Casey DeSmith, he’ll be a great backup option for Shesterkin and the Blueshirts.
Braden Holtby has had a redemption year this season where he has shown that he still has a little juice left in his game. Don’t take that the wrong way though, he hasn’t been spectacular but he has been a good serviceable backup for the Dallas Stars. In 23 games, Holtby sports a .913 SV% and a -1.12 in GSAx. Like I said, nothing spectacular, but they are serviceable numbers for a guy who’s better off as a backup during this part of his career. And all for nothing Holtby brings more experience than all these other goaltenders, so he could be the best option available when looking at all these pending unrestricted free agents.
Oilers starter Mikko Koskinen who probably won’t return with the team due to their cap issues entering the offseason. Koskinen is a weird goalie, one game he could be bailing out the Oilers and then the next he could look like Keith Kinkaid where it looks like he can’t make a save. Statistically, Koskinen has a .904 SV% and a -4.28 in GSAx which is 67th in the NHL. Koskinen could still serve as a solid backup however, and if Drury has the opportunity reunite the former SKA St. Petersburg duo, There’s no reason to be against it.
Anton Forsberg this season has been simply great for Senators this season. Every time he’s called upon he gives the Senators a chance to win each and every game. During the 21-22 season so far, Forsberg has a .921 SV% and an 8.41 in GSAx, which is 11th in the NHL! Now the issue here is Forsberg could command a good chunk of money as after this season he could look to be a 1B goaltender somewhere. So for the Rangers sake this does seem unlikely, but if he’s willing to the role as a backup then this would be a huge addition for the team.
The last goaltender on this list is current Avalanche backup, Pavel Francouz. This one is very unlikely as the Avs have the cap space to resign him and he should have no reason to leave, especially if the Avs decide to make him their starter next year. In 14 games this season Francouz gas a .920 SV% and a 0.92 in GSAx with is 38th in the league. Now there is a couple knocks you can make against Francouz, one is the fact that you can argue he is a product of the team in front of him and his injury history. Both of these are legitimate concerns especially his injury history. However if the Rangers feel his injuries won’t be a problem for the team, Francouz would be a really good backup option for the Rangers.
The Rangers are very lucky that there are quite a few solid options to help fill in the hole that Georgiev will leave. Koskinen, Allen, & Holtby could all be very solid options to play behind Igor Shesterkin in the big apple where all 3 goalies can step in and play consecutive games if need be. Despite this, there are names the Rangers should avoid, i’m looking at Jaroslav Halak, Thomas Greiss, and Joonas Korpisalo. Nonetheless, the offseason is still very far away, but it’s very interesting to see what the Rangers do to replace Alexandar Georgiev.