Goaltenders are a special kind of player, and Igor Shesterkin is a prime example of that. The New York Rangers saw something in him, drafting him 188th overall in the fourth round in 2014. At that time, Henrik Lundqvist was the King of New York, and though they could not have known Shesterkin would inherit the crown, in a way, it is poetic that the Rangers went from having a King to a Czar.
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Heir to the Throne
The Rangers have had great goalies in recent times. Mike Richter, Lundqvist, and now Shesterkin. Rangers fans have become accustomed to having a goalie who can be more than just a body in net. Shesterkin is as beloved by fans as Richter or Lundqvist, but it is not just a simple fascination with goalies for Rangers fans. Shesterkin has the stats and games to prove he is one of the best goaltenders in the league.
He spent the 2019-20 season as a backup and emerged as the team’s starter during the 2020-21 season. Throughout it all, he has shown everyone around the league he is here for the long haul. In 100 games over three seasons, his average stats show eight shutouts, a .928 save percentage, and a 2.31 goals against average.
Shesterkin is the sixth Ranger to earn the trophy, following in the footsteps of Lundqvist, John Vanbiesbrouck, Ed Giacomin/Gilles Villemure, and Dave Kerr. For the 2021-22 season, Shesterkin had a 36-13-4 record, leading the NHL with a 2.07 goals against average and .935 save percentage and six shutouts. He is the third goaltender in NHL history, with 50 or more starts, to post a save percentage of .935 or higher in a single season. The other two were Tim Thomas and Dominik Hasek. In addition, Shesterkin happens to be the fifth goaltender since Martin Brodeur in 2002-03 to guide his team to the third round of the postseason in the same season he won the Vezina Trophy. The other three are Thomas, Lundqvist, and Marc-Andre Fleury.
Surprising fans and everyone watching the NHL Awards, being a father is in his future soon. Aside from fatherhood, fans can find him in net this fall, ready to take on the league again. One can hope this is just the beginning of Vezina Trophy wins, postseason appearances, and shouts of “Shesty, release us!”.
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