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Shesterkin inspired to learn from Lundqvist with Rangers

Goalie prospect excited to work with his idol in training camp

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Igor Shesterkin is inspired by the opportunity that will present itself at New York Rangers training camp.

"Henrik Lundqvist is my idol since I was a little boy, so I very much look forward to seeing him on the ice and learning what he does on the ice," the 23-year-old goalie said at Rangers development camp in June. "Playing with him someday on the same team, obviously there is some work to be done in that regard.

"Right now, I just want to prove how I play the game, that I could [play in New York with Lundqvist], but I have a long way to go to prove that."

Shesterkin is finally on the path toward that chance. He signed his entry-level contract May 3 and arrived in New York with his wife shortly before the Rangers held their camp in Stamford, Connecticut.

Video: Reflecting on Henrik Lundqvist signing with Rangers

Shesterkin took in the skyscrapers, restaurants and museums of New York City. They everything he thought they'd be. 

"I like this very much," Shesterkin said. "Getting used to it."

Chances are he'll have to get used to Hartford before he makes it to New York, possibly as Lundqvist's teammate.

Shesterkin, selected by the Rangers in the fourth round (No. 118) of the 2014 NHL Draft, will be behind Lundqvist and returning backup Alexandar Georgiev in training camp, which means barring injury he is likely to start the season with Hartford in the American Hockey League, unless he outperforms Georgiev.

"I'm not going to be in someone's way and tell him you have no chance to make our team," Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton said. "[Igor has] had a lot of success where he's been at, high levels and he's won, so I don't think I'm in the place to tell these guys they don't have a chance. We'll let that work itself out when training camp comes around."

Video: Busy Rangers offseason started with May acquisitions

Shesterkin seems willing to do what it takes to earn his way to the NHL chance, even though he comes to North America as a two-time all-star in the Kontinental Hockey League for SKA St. Petersburg. He was 80-19-15 in 117 KHL games, his career 1.68 goals-against average is the best in league history, and his .935 save percentage is second best (minimum 50 games). He helped SKA St. Petersburg win the KHL championship, the Gagarin Cup, in 2017.

Shesterkin won a gold medal in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics with the Olympic Athletes of Russia, finished third twice at the IIHF World Championship (2016, 2017), and second at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

"I'm very honored to sign a contract with a club like the New York Rangers ... but it's just the beginning," Shesterkin said. "I will do everything I can to play as well as I can and then it will be up to the coaching staff to see where I fit. No matter what I have to prove quite a bit. I'm very far from the pinnacle that I envision for myself, so I have work to do."

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