With Antti Raanta headed to Arizona with teammate Derek Stepan, the New York Rangers are looking for a replacement to back up Henrik Lundqvist.
Raanta was an important part of the success of the New York Rangers throughout the 2016-17 season. Lundqvist struggled, leading to Raanta stepping in for five straight games during the month of December. During this span the Rangers won four of the five games and Raanta recorded three shutouts.
The Rangers by no means should take Raanta’s strong play for granted. However, having Benoit Allaire as a resource means that despite his strong play, the Rangers have a shot to mold another solid backup goaltender.
Through the course of his career, Allaire has coached a range of players with a range of styles.
First coaching in Arizona, he helped Brian Boucher to the modern day NHL shutout record of 332:01 back in the 2003-2004 season. He turned backup Nikolai into a two time All-Star team member and reduced his goals against average by over half a goal.
In his time with the New York Rangers, he has helped goaltender after goaltender thrive.
The Rangers goaltenders who have worked with him have attributed the success they have had to Allaire’s coaching style and personality.
Throughout the 2016-17 season, Allaire successfully worked with Lundqvist to pull him out of slumps. Additionally, he shaped Antti Raanta into one of the most reliable backups in the league, much like he did with Cam Talbot just a year prior.
Whatever it is he does, clearly it works. He has coached three vastly different goaltenders (both in style and physicality) and he has managed to succeed with all of them.
Early this season, Talbot attributed much of his success to Allaire.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without his mentorship and his belief in my in those five years I was in the organization,” he said. “I gotta give Benny a lot of credit for getting me to where I was and getting ready for the transition to Edmonton.”
What do the Rangers need?
Because of this, the Rangers don’t necessarily need to target a in-league player to replace Raanta. Alliare could mold any player, but management should focus on finding the right player.
This decision is one that could impact the Rangers long-term. If they choose to go a prospect route, whomever they select could be considered as a replacement for Lundqvist further down the road.
Pulling someone up out of the system may be the best option for the Rangers at this point. It gives them an opportunity for their young talent to begin to step into a much bigger role. Beyond this, it would allow Allaire to really work to mature a player and open a door to see unlimited potential for growth.
Regardless of what management decides, having Allaire in their corner means that the New York Rangers will always have solid goaltending. In addition, his steady guidance means they will always have reliable options in the net and will ultimately to be a more successful team.