Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin a finalist for the Hart Trophy

Igor Shesterkin officially has a chance to become the heart (and soul) of the NHL.

The Russia goaltender was nominated Thursday as a finalist for the Hart Trophy for league MVP along with Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Toronto’s Auston Matthews.

Shesterkin, who led the NHL in the regular season with a goals-against average (2.07) and a save percentage (.935), was the Rangers’ first goaltender since Chuck Rayner in 1950 and only the fifth player in the franchise. History be so honored. Mark Messier was the team’s youngest winner in 1992, while goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist was a finalist in 2012.

“Of course it’s well deserved. He’s been our best player all year,” teammate Chris Kreider said of Shesterkin on Thursday. “Without him, we certainly aren’t in the position we are in now. He kept us in games. He won games single-handedly.

Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin defends the net in the second half of Game 5 against the Penguins on May 11, 2022.
Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin defends the net in Game 5 against the Penguins.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“He has my vote, if that counts for anything. It’s a wealth of riches, over my time here we’ve been fortunate to have quite a dominant goalkeeping squad so I’m used to that point. But this season has been otherworldly and he’s been great as a teammate, as a competitor and as a person. We’re really lucky to have him.”

In the last 60 years, only four goalkeepers – Jacques Plante (1962), Dominik Hasek (1997 and 1998), Jose Theodore (2002) and Carey Price (2015) – have won this award. McDavid led the NHL with 123 points for the Oilers that season, and Matthews scored a league-best 60 goals for the Maple Leafs.

Shesterkin, 26, also the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalkeeper, was not made available to the media after Thursday’s practice session. He stopped 29 shots in a 5-3 win the night before at the Garden to force Friday’s Game 6 in Pittsburgh, where he was drawn in each of Rangers’ previous two losses.

“Obviously he had an outstanding season. It was great to see him receive this honor as one of the three candidates,” said Gallant. “They are all great [players], but he wants to win playoff games now. That’s the biggest thing on his agenda. But it’s an outstanding season. We are all very proud of him and he deserves it.”

Gallant said there was no reason for the Rangers to “worry about the past” after suffering road losses to a 14-6 aggregate in Game 3 and Game 4 at PPG Paints Arena. As defender Jacob Trouba observed: “We know what’s in store for us now, but we have to play better than we did in those two games there, we know that. We want to play like we played [Wednesday] Night. That’s how Rangers play when we’re successful.” Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin a finalist for the Hart Trophy


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