On January 6th, 2020, the New York Rangers called up one of their top prospects from Hartford. That guy was Igor Shesterkin. He made his debut the next night and was great throughout his rookie season (stretched across 2 seasons). This offseason, Shesterkin signed a 4 year 5.6 million AAV contract with the Rangers. Now that he has this big contract, he has a lot to play up to, but I believe he is capable of doing it.
What Shesterkin Has Done So Far
As I alluded to, Igor Shesterkin was called up on January 6th of 2020 and made his debut the next night. After a rough start, Igor picked it up and ended up stopping 29/32 shots en route to a 5-3 win. For his next 11 games, he was outstanding. He had a .932 SV% with a 2.52 GAA throughout those 12 starts. There was a lot of hype for him coming into the 2021 season.
Although his numbers took a step back, Shesterkin still had a good year. He had a .916 SV% and a 2.62 GAA. There were a lot of injuries in front of him, so it wasn’t particularly easy for him last year. He finished 5th in the Calder voting, which was about expected considering the seasons other rookies had.
Why Shesterkin Can Continue Down This Path
The first big reason why Shesterkin can follow up his 2 good years is his overall consistency. Although it is not really a large sample size, he has rarely had the bad game thus far. Sometimes he starts slow, but he usually picks it up as the game moves on. If he can turn his good consistency into great consistency, there’s no stopping him. The next reason is his sheer talent. You can notice that Shesterkin does things that the average goalie can’t do. He has the ability to make the jaw-dropping save. He also makes some saves look rather easy. If he could put it all together, he can be a good starting goalie for a long time.
Obviously, Shesterkin isn’t perfect, so he still has a few flaws. The first that I do not think will continue for very long is that he gives up the soft goal occasionally. It didn’t happen his first year, but it definitely happened a few times last year. This issue usually resolves itself, especially with young goalies. The second reason is that he hasn’t really stolen many games that some goalies do. Rangers fans are very used to watching Henrik Lundqvist play, and there were some games that he would not let the Rangers lose. Maybe Shesterkin just hasn’t had the chance yet, but it is very important to do if you want to go from a good goalie to a great one.
What to Expect From Shesterkin
So far, we have pretty much seen the best he can be, and hopefully the worst he can be. When trying to project what his career can be, I’d say his numbers will pretty much split what he did his first 2 seasons. I would expect his save percentage to be in the .920-.925 range. His goals against, although having a good defense helps this stat, will probably be in the 2.3-2.6 range. I would also hope that he has the one or two seasons that are Vezina caliber.
If Igor Shesterkin can piece everything he has shown together, there’s no reason for him to not be able to be a top goalie in the NHL in the years to come.