Shesterkin Set for Big Pay Increase After Stellar 2023/24 Season

Despite the Rangers bowing out in 6 games to the Florida Panthers, the Rangers' elite netminder handily carried the team throughout their postseason run
New York Rangers v Florida Panthers - Game Six
New York Rangers v Florida Panthers - Game Six / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

The best thing to come from the New York Rangers' 2023/24 playoff run, despite its unfortunate ending, wasn't a star player or even one shaking off a little bit of rust. Rather, it came from the backbone of any NHL team, whether they even made the playoffs in the first place.

28-year-old Igor Shesterkin proved he was still one of the NHL's best goaltenders, even as the Rangers slogged through the 2nd half of their 2nd round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes, winning in 6 games, only to fall in another 6 games to the Florida Panthers. Shesterkin posts for this season a 36-17-2 record in 55 games, all of which he started, and a .912 save percentage. He made a total of 1465 saves, allowing only 141 goals the whole season, regular and playoffs combined. And while these are sharp declining numbers compared to his best in 2021/22 (36-13-4 in 53 games with all but one started, .916 SVG), the Moscow native put up another impressive GAA, notching a 2.58 for the 2023/24 campaign.

All these impressive stats mean that Shesterkin is actually due for a sizable pay increase, which would make him the highest-paid goaltender in the NHL right now. It would especially be good if such a deal were to include an extension, as he's one of several Rangers nearing the end of their current contract. Shesterkin can become a UFA in 2025 ahead of the 2025/26 season, but there's easily no way the Rangers are going to cut him loose. Otherwise, what other fanbase could possibly emulate the cheers of "Igor" after every big save the man makes? (Looking at you, Florida fans who virtually didn't exist just 5+ years ago!)

Shesterkin currently makes $5.6 million annually and will head into the 4th year of his $22.6 million deal, which he signed as an extension from his initial 2-year rookie contract in 2019/20, worth $7.5 million. A 2nd extension wouldn't be anything new for the Rangers either, as they did the same with franchise legend Henrik Lundqvist from 2014/15 to, coincidentally enough, Shesterkin's rookie season. It's like they already had a plan for the 2021/22 All-Star and Vezina Trophy winner in that same season. Even teammate and fellow superstar LW Chris Kreider, who was arguably the Rangers' best postseason player this year besides Shesty, has praised his goaltender for helping them get to the playoffs and as far as they went in the first place.

As the Rangers' offseason truly gets underway, their top priority is their goaltending, arguably the strongest piece of the puzzle they need to return to a deep playoff run and, maybe someday, win their next Stanley Cup. The wingers and centers need tweaking, too, since Alex Wennberg and Jack Roslovic are also set to become UFAs very soon, the difference being a season before Shesterkin. That's something the Rangers could fill in free agency or this month's Entry Draft. And as for the former, if the Rangers can work a contract like magic like they did with Lundqvist, snagging their next superstars to add to their current ones, both young and veteran, shouldn't be a problem.