Should the Rangers Spend Big on Shesterkin or Follow the Trend of Winning with Cheaper Goalies?

Stuart Skinner
Stuart Skinner (NHL)

If the Edmonton Oilers win the Stanley Cup with Stuart Skinner as their goaltender, following the Vegas Golden Knights’ victory with Adin Hill, it raises a critical question for the New York Rangers. Should the Rangers invest $12 million annually to retain Igor Shesterkin for the next 5-8 years?

This discussion is pertinent considering the trend of teams winning the Cup with lower-cost goalies. Shesterkin, with one year left on his contract, aims for a record-setting deal, leveraging his high value to the Rangers.

Originally, the focus was on Connor McDavid’s exceptional performance, positioning him as the preeminent player in the NHL. This individual dominance recalls Wayne Gretzky’s early 1980s supremacy before Mario Lemieux emerged as a comparable talent.

McDavid has now firmly established himself above contemporaries like Nathan MacKinnon, Nikita Kucherov, Auston Matthews, and even his teammate Leon Draisaitl, eliminating any reasonable debate over his superiority.

Shesterkin’s situation demands attention, especially with his current contract set to expire. The Oilers’ Stuart Skinner and the Golden Knights’ Adin Hill had significantly lower cap hits, suggesting a team might not need to spend heavily on a goaltender to win the Cup.

Previous Cup winners like Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper also had relatively modest cap charges. This context pressures Rangers’ GM Chris Drury to carefully weigh the financial commitment to Shesterkin against these emerging trends.

Igor Shesterkin
Igor Shesterkin (NHL)

The financial aspects of goaltender contracts are further complicated by the ongoing discussions between the NHL and NHLPA regarding four players charged with sexual assault. Their contract statuses and qualifying offers are in limbo, potentially affecting team cap management.

The league initially proposed freezing their contracts until legal proceedings conclude, which the union is still negotiating. This situation must be resolved by June 30 to determine the implications of the cap and free agent.

The upcoming week is packed with significant NHL events, including Game 7 of the Cup Final, the Hockey Hall of Fame selections, the NHL awards show, and the draft. Following these, the free agency period begins, adding to the current chaotic environment. The Rangers’ decision regarding Shesterkin will be one of many critical issues addressed during this tumultuous period.

Lastly, the broader NHL landscape includes debates on video review processes and overlooked Hall of Fame candidates. The proposal for full-speed video replay to streamline game experiences contrasts with the current, often tedious, frame-by-frame reviews.

Meanwhile, players like Alexander Mogilny continue to be snubbed for the Hall of Fame, highlighting persistent biases within the selection committee. Amidst these discussions, teams like the Devils are actively strategizing, using assets like draft picks to strengthen their roster.