New York Rangers Should Tap Into Goaltending Prospect Pool for a Trade

Mar 14, 2015; Buffalo, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Mackenzie Skapski (70) during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 14, 2015; Buffalo, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Mackenzie Skapski (70) during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Rangers don’t have a lot of depth in their prospect pool, except for at goalie. The team should capitalize on those assets in the trade market.

Over the past week and a half, we have talked a lot about trades a lot here at Blue Line Station. With that said, we have barely talked about the New York Rangers goalie prospect pool.

For whatever reason, the Rangers’ abundance of goaltending prospects is never really talked about in terms of trade. The depth of the forward group has been talked about ad nauseam, but the team’s goalie prospect group is one of their biggest strengths, in terms of assets.

Although he is getting older, Henrik Lundqvist still has four more years after this one on his contract. He will be the starter until his contract that pays him $8.5 million annually expires after the 2020-2021 season. In the meantime, the Rangers have a group of four or five highly regarded goalie prospects who have a 6’1″, 188 lbs boulder standing in their way.

Igor Shestyorkin

This guy is a very interesting commodity. Shestyorkin is by far the best goalie prospect the Rangers have in their system. He is probably the one you hold on to–his name has “york” in it for crying out loud!

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A former fourth-rounder of the Rangers in 2014, the 21-year-old Shestyorkin is tearing up the KHL, arguably the second best hockey league in the world. In 31 games this season, Shestyorkin has put up unbelievable numbers. He is 22-3-4 with a 1.53 GAA and a .943 save percentage to go along with eight shutouts–yes, eight!

The only reason you would consider moving him in a deal is because, in the summer, his team Saint Petersburgh inked him to a 3-year extension. Because of this, he will not be able to come over to the states until 2020 at the earliest. This works perfectly for the Rangers because, in 2020, Lundqvist will be in the final year of his contract, and Igor can come and get his feet wet as the backup.

Mackenzie Skapski

Skapski is known around these parts as the Buffalo Sabres killer, as he beat them twice back in the 2014-2015 season when injuries across the board allotted him some NHL time. However, Skapski’s career has taken multiple hits since his NHL debut. After having hip surgery that had him miss the first half of the 2015-2016 season, Skapski did not rebound so well. He struggled at both the AHL and ECHL level, posting a combined 9-21-5 record.

Skapski’s 2016-2017 season hasn’t started so hot, either. After starting the year 0-4 in 5 games in Hartford, the Rangers sent him to the Greensville Grasshoppers of the ECHL, where he has recorded a 7-4 record with a GAA (3.08) and SV% (.903) that leave a lot to be desired.

It is hard to imagine how much trade value the 22-year-old still has, but with one year remaining on his contract, the team should try and recoup a late round draft pick for the red head.

Brandon Halverson

The 20-year-old Halverson is playing in his first season as an AHLer. The former second-round pick is going through some growing pains in Hartford. He has posted a 3.68 GAA and a .867 SV% in his 8 games, of which he has a 3-5 record.

Admittedly, whenever I have seen Halverson play, he has never really appealed to me. While his size (roughly 6’4″) is very enticing, Halverson needs to learn some rebound control if he wants to make it to the next level. A lot of teams still view him as a top goalie prospect, even with his struggles. If a team is willing to take him as the number two piece in a major trade, maybe even one for a defenseman, the Rangers would be fools not to take it.

Adam Huska

A 7th round pick in the 2015 draft, it looks like the Rangers stole another quality goaltending prospect in the late rounds. Huska won the USHL Goaltender of the Year award last season. He posted jaw-dropping numbers. He was 26-9-2 in the crease for his Green Bay Gamblers team with a 1.82 GAA and a .926 SV%.

The 19-year-old is currently playing in his first college hockey season for the University of Connecticut. In his 10 starts, he has posted a modest 4-3-3 record, but his other numbers are still really good. He has a 2.54 GAA and a .926 SV% to go along with his one shutout so far this season.

Being so far away from presumably signing his first NHL contract, a team might not be willing to give the Rangers as much as they probably deserve for him. The best move with Huska might be holding on to him, but the Rangers should definitely listen to offers.

Next: Rangers Should Dangle Vesey as Trade Bait for a Defenseman

If I had to rank these prospects in terms of trade value, Shestyorkin definitely has the most. One would imagine that the gap between Halverson and Huska in terms of trade value is probably very small, as Huska looks fantastic but is years away from NHL time, whereas Halverson may be only a year or two away. Skapski’s free fall has been well documented, so who knows what, if any trade value he carries.