New York Rangers: Why the 2nd round goalie makes perfect sense

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 25: Jeff Gorton (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 25: Jeff Gorton (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New York Rangers are new to the rebuilding process. They drafted a goalie in the second round and it makes perfect sense.

Modern-day fans of the New York Rangers don’t have the same problems their compatriots in the early 2000’s had to deal with.

For example, fans on the road can easily view games on their mobile phones instead of constantly pressing a tiny refresh button, and frustrations can easily and instantly be vented in 280 characters or less through a certain app represented by a bird.

Additionally, millennial Ranger fans, despite dealing with a chaotic, ever-changing franchise, at are assured of who their starting goaltender is for the foreseeable future.

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Though likely entering his twilight years, Henrik Lundqvist remains the Rangers’ net minder as they enter an exciting but uncertain era of hockey.

With the team committing to a rebuild that has removed them from the Eastern Conference contender shortlist, Lundqvist has offered to stay for the long haul, eager to see this transition period through, a period that will see him welcome the fourth head coach of his tenure, David Quinn.

Quinn, a college hockey product, has plenty of young clay to work with, but the debate persists over who “his” goalie will be, an heir to the Lundqvist throne.

That multiple-choice question welcomed in a new name on Saturday afternoon, as the Rangers drafted Swedish stopper Olof Lindbom with the 39th overall selection of the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas.

Lindbom, of Swedish origin, was ranked the fifth best European goaltender by NHL Central Scouting, but was still envisioned by many to be a mid-second round selection, including TSN’s Bob McKenzie, who ranked Lindbom 53rd in his draft ranking entering the weekend.

That was just part of the reason the Lindbom selection was seen as perplexing for the Rangers. The pick was, for example, the Rangers’ only turn in the second around, having traded the New Jersey pick earned in February’s Michael Grabner trade to Ottawa.

Additionally, the Rangers fixation on defensemen briefly went out the window at an inopportune time, as they passed on touted American blue liner Bode Wilde, who went two picks later to the rival Islanders.

Most puzzling of all, however, is the Rangers’ surplus of younger goalies in their youth system, a good number of who will be at this week’s prospect camp.

The popular Russian stud, Igor Shestyorkin, won’t be in attendance, but seems to be the popular prince-in-waiting among Rangers fans, and rightfully so.

A fourth-round choice in 2014, Shestyorkin has spent his career impressing in his homeland, denying the shooters of the KHL, including a stellar goals against average of 1.70 and save percentage in .933 in 28 games last season.

In Shestyorkin’s absence, Lindbom will join a crowded net that includes Alexandar Georgiev, who performed solid in extended backup duties last season (4-4-1, .915 save percentage) with the big club. Adam Huska (Seventh round, 2015) and the appropriately named Tyler Wall (Sixth round, 2016) will likewise appear.

It all plays perfectly into a plan of succession.

When picking an heir to Lundqvist’s crease kingdom, the Rangers now have options. Impressive as Shestyorkin has been in Russia, there’s no guarantee that the success will translate to the NHL level.

The Rangers have placed all their eggs in one goaltender basket before. In fact, doing so twice in the span of four drafts, when it came to find a successor to Mike Richter.

First was Dan Blackburn, 2001’s 10th overall pick (passing on future All-Star Ales Hemsky, who went to Edmonton three spots later), who was quickly done in by injuries brought upon by an instantly massive workload.

With the ailments forcing Blackburn into an early retirement, the Rangers went with a series of stopgaps, namely Nashville transfer Mike Dunham, before turning to Al Montoya with the sixth pick in 2004.

Montoya played respectfully in Hartford, but by the time he  was ready to play at the NHL level, Lundqvist had taken over the city, and he was dealt to the Phoenix Coyotes.

The surplus of prospects gives the Rangers contingency, backup plans in case the primary option that doesn’t work.

With Lundqvist ready to give the Rangers a sense of consistent tending in the immediate future, the team has time to sort out it’s future. This assures a smooth transition of power, and keep the sense of consistency going.

Even if Shestyorkin does end up being the successor many envision, any of the young talents can continue a tradition of Lundqvist understudies, that of making another team happy.

Montoya has built a length career as a backup, while Cam Talbot and Antti Raanta have gone on to become starters. With Raanta earning himself a healthy new contract from the Coyotes earlier this year.

Even if Lundqvist is reaching his final years, the Rangers are still in a spot where they have the stable goaltending situation in the tri-state area.

With chaos taking over a good portion of the rest of the roster, evidenced by the team’s keenness to take defensemen over the weekend, the Rangers would be wise to keep stability in the position group going.

The Rangers made several questionable moves in the weekend’s proceedings, one of the opening chapters in the story of this rebuild session.

That stability is personified by longtime goaltending coach Benoit Allaire, who, according to The Athletic’s Rick Carpiniello, is a big fan of the Lindbom pick.

Allaire has ensured the Rangers’ goaltending has been little to worry about, helping Lundqvist become one of hockey’s most accomplished goalies and create backup options that have netted the Rangers further assets.

Next: Reaction to the Rangers' Number 9 Pick

The team’s choices this week were high-risk, but plenty promise high-rewards. Lindbom is more of the latter.