Jeff Gorton has a lengthy New York Rangers to do list and not a lot of time to get it all done
The NHL Entry Draft, free agent frenzy, buyout windows and qualifying offer deadlines are just around the corner. The schedule is accelerated more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic and even though there are concerns about when the 2020-21 season, will start, the New York Rangers have a lot to do.
We’re sure that General Manager Jeff Gorton, with help from Team President John Davidson has a priority list. Over the next two days we provide what we believe are the top ten priorities facing Gorton this off-season. Today we start with priorities #1-5.
#1 Resolve the goalie situation
One of the first statements out of the Rangers’ brain trust once their season ended was that they were not going into the 2020-21 season with three goalies. That means one goalie will be gone and it won’t be Igor Shesterkin. It also probably won’t be Alexandar Georgiev. All factors point to Henrik Lundqvist.
Gorton does have options when it comes to their future Hall of Fame goaltender. He has to decide if the Rangers will buy out Lundqvist, trade him to a team that will buy him out, or persuade him to retire. It’s the 800 pound gorilla hanging over this off-season and it must get done soon. We cannot rule out that the decision has already been made and the team is mapping out a public relations strategy. If it’s a buyout, that will happen as early as September 25.
Gorton does have until October 8 to execute a buyout, but with qualifying offers to Restricted Free Agents due by October 6 and the Entry Draft happening that same day, he’ll want to get this situation resolved earlier.
Shesterkin is the heir to Lundqvist’s role as the face of the franchise in net. There’s no doubt that the team would like a Shesterkin-Georgiev tandem in net. The odds of Gorton trading Georgiev are slim as there are quite a few free agent goaltenders available and teams will want to see how that shakes out before inquiring about a player like Georgiev. Once the free agency smoke has cleared the Rangers may need to keep him if by that time, Lundqvist is a goner. If so, unless presented with an overwhelming offer, they will need Georgiev to be the backup.
So, not only is this decision the top priority, it’s the most sensitive one and will once it happens, the dominoes will begin to fall.