With the signing of Mika Zibanejad, the New York Rangers offseason is almost complete. However, there are still a few minor touchups that could help.
The New York Rangers continue to have about as successful an offseason as the team could have hoped for. Almost every move that Jeff Gorton and company have completed has resulted in the Rangers becoming a stronger team in 2017-2018.
Now, with the image of the team coming into focus, only a few minor tweaks need to be made. One of those is the addition of a veteran presence in net. Yes, the Rangers have Ondrej Pavelec as their backup for Henrik Lundqvist. Yes, Alexander Georgiev will probably be the starter in the AHL. But what if either falters?
State between the pipes
The Rangers have had the luxury of not having to worry about their goaltending situation since Lundqvist became the starter over 10 years ago. With Lundqvist at the helm, the Rangers have consistently been on the stronger teams from the net out. It hasn’t just been the starting goaltending, however. Backups such as Cam Talbot and Antti Raanta more recently have gone from second fiddle to starters after their time with the Rangers.
Now, Pavelec will be the Rangers backup. The difference is that Pavelec has already been a starter in the league, this is a demotion. While the experience is there, the consistency is certainly not. Pavelec is 152-158-47 during his 10-year career. With a 2.87 goals against average in that span, Pavelec doesn’t instill the highest level of confidence.
In the AHL it will be a three way battle for starter. The newly signed Georgiev is presumably the favorite, but Brandon Halverson and Chris Nell will be in the mix as well. Overall the Rangers seem set in net, but with Lundqvist aging extra precautions wouldn’t hurt.
Vet in net
While the Rangers aren’t in desperate need of another goaltender, a veteran presence would help for two reasons. For starters, the best way four the young goaltenders in the AHL to learn is through the help of someone who has been in the league. While there is no stat to directly prove this, it has never hurt.
For Georgiev to hear from a goalie who has been in the NHL and learn from him would immensely help his development. Furthermore, as I mentioned above, Pavelec is far from a sure thing. While Georgiev could step in, it would be much easier to let him develop all year in the minors.
Who’s the catch
As I mentioned before, the Rangers shouldn’t be desperate in this regard. But the luxury to have another goaltender who can help develop the younger prospects while also acting as a backup in case Pavelec falters would be a great help.
While there are no real contenders in free agency-outside of Jhonas Enroth who is currently under contract in the KHL- a small trade would be doable. Two options then jump to mind. Alex Stalock who is currently under contract with the Minnesota Wild and Reto Berra in Anaheim. Stalock will be tougher because he is the current backup, but Minnesota has a deep goalie pool.
Berra is the pick here. He has spent five years in the league and has a career .915 save percentage. He has experience and decent stats on his side. He is also third string behind John Gibson and Ryan Miller in the Anaheim Ducks organization making a cheap trade reasonable.
The addition of Berra would do two things. One, it would give Georgiev someone to learn from in the AHL. Two, and maybe more important, he would act as a safety blanket in the event that Pavelec doesn’t succeed in his backup role.