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Adam Huska, Igor Shestyorkin solidify Rangers’ goaltending future, allow for moves to be made

Bobby Bevilacqua

ES_GPG_Gamblers vs. Black Hawks_3.17.15

Adam Huska in net for the Green Bay Gamblers. Photo courtesy of Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media

In last year’s NHL Draft, the Rangers selected 6’3” Slovakian goaltender Adam Huska with their seventh round pick, a selection that people didn’t think twice about considering the talent the Rangers already have in their goaltending prospect pool.

Brandon Halverson was considered the brightest goalie prospect in the Rangers organization, winning 40 games with the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds last season in the OHL, and getting regular reps with the USA Juniors team. Mackenzie Skapski was an excellent goalie in the AHL last season, making two NHL starts before a hip injury caused him to rehab for most of this year. Add that with Magnus Hellberg, the goalie prospect acquired from the Nashville Predators in the offseason, and the Rangers are stacked.

So it’s understandable why nobody batted an eye when the Rangers took Adam Huska with the 184th pick of the draft last season. But after being selected, he played well for Slovakia in the WJC, carrying that momentum into an excellent first full season with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL.

Yesterday, the league announced that Adam Huska was named the goaltender of the year in the USHL, posting a 26-9-2-0 record with a .931 save percentage, a 1.82 GAA and four shutouts. Here’s a snippet from the USHL’s press release, which I found on Blueshirt Banter.

Huska, a native of Slovakia, posted a five-game winning streak from October 10th to November 6th, picking up victories over Youngstown, Muskegon, Waterloo, and twice over Chicago. He picked up his first career USHL shutout a week later, as he blanked the Bloomington Thunder in a 2-0 Gamblers victory. Huska then had another five-game winning streak from December 11th to January 23rd, defeating both Madison and Sioux Falls twice as well as knocking off Chicago. He finished the season winning 17 of his last 22 starts and helped solidify the Gamblers playoff position.

Huska was named USHL Goaltender of the Week twice, November 24th and December 14th. He also represented his home country of Slovakia in the World Junior Championship, appearing in five games throughout the tournament. Huska was named a top-three player of his team for the tournament.

Huska is just 18 and will be playing at the University of Connecticut next season.

Huska wasn’t the only Rangers goalie prospect to be awarded for their play this season. Igor Shestyorkin, a 20 year old Russian goalie prospect selected by the Rangers in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, was named the best goalie in the VHL this year, posting a 16-6-3 record with an incredible 1.19 GAA and a .954 save percentage with six shutouts. He will play with SKA St. Petersburg next season.

That’s two Rangers goalie prospects to be names best in their respective leagues this season, which is extremely encouraging. When Henrik Lundqvist decides to hang up his skates, an era of Rangers hockey will come to an end. But it’s encouraging to see that there are many capable players who will be ready to step up and challenge for a future starting role with the Blueshirts.

Shestyorkin, Huska, Halverson, Hellberg and Skapski. The goaltending pool in New York is stacked.

The improvement in the play of Huska and Shestyorkin does more than give the Rangers confidence in the future. It allows them to be more active now and address the team’s current needs. With Antti Raanta signed for another two years, these goalie prospects likely won’t be on the Rangers anytime soon.

And the Rangers won’t be needing all five of those prospects, so they can package one of them in a deal for something bigger. For example, there’s talk of the Oilers trading their fourth overall pick, and the Rangers could confidently throw Halverson into an offer because Shestyorkin and Huska have been playing so well. The depth of the goalie prospects allow GM Jeff Gorton to be more flexible now.

The Rangers may trade away a lot of their draft picks, but they sure know how to pick some late round gems.

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Posted on May 10, 2016, in Rangers Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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