Antti Raanta was the New York Rangers backup goaltender for two years. Just because he’s gone doesn’t mean we shouldn’t appreciate him for his time in the Big Apple.
It has been just a few weeks since the New York Rangers traded Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes. While RangersTown has mourned the loss of Stepan, not much has been made of the departure of Antti Raanta.
Sure, Raanta wasn’t a career Ranger like Stepan. He was only with the team for two seasons and had fewer memorable moments on Broadway. However, that doesn’t mean Raanta wasn’t an important piece to the Rangers success during his tenure.
With Raanta’s trade to Arizona, the Rangers have moved on to Ondrej Pavelec as their back up goaltender. With the success New York has had with backup goalies in the past couple of years, Pavelec has expectations to live up to. That’s precisely why Raanta shouldn’t have to walk into the dessert sunset without a proper goodbye.
Not your average backup
The New York Rangers’ success with backups continued for the last two years with Raanta. After many thought it would be tough to replace Cam Talbot, Raanta was just as good, if not better. Last season, of the goaltenders who played 30-plus games, there were just eight better than Raanta in terms of save percentage and seven better in terms of goals against average.
The 27-year-old has won at least half of the games he’s started in as a backup all four years in the league. With the Rangers, he compiled a .613 win percentage in games started. Overall, in two seasons, at 27-14-4, Raanta did exactly what the Rangers needed him to do as the team’s backup.
Thanks to the work of goaltender Benoit Allaire, Raanta now finds himself with a starting gig in Arizona. It is a deserved promotion and it comes at the right time for Raanta. The stats speak for themselves. Raanta was well above average as a backup goaltender.
As easy as it is to dismiss Raanta’s departure because of the fact he was the backup, there is no guarantee that Pavelec will be able to give the Rangers the same product on the ice that Raanta did when he was between the pipes. There really wasn’t much drop off when Raanta was swapped with Lundqvist. At times he was better last season.
A quality backup has almost been a given for New York the last five years. That’s why seeing Raanta go doesn’t seem like a big deal. But it could be. If Pavelec struggles early on in the season, talks of how lucky the Rangers were to have Raanta will start to materialize.
That’s why as Rangers fans, appreciate what Antti Raanta brought to the team now, not after things go south (hopefully they don’t). Raanta deserves a lot of credit for how stable the Rangers were able to be without Lundqvist these last two seasons.
Though his departure won’t sting as much as Stepan’s, there is no doubt the loss of Antti Raanta could hurt the Rangers. Raanta was a rock for New York and will be missed between the pipes.