DOB: May 12, 1997
Height & Weight: 6’3″ & 191lbs
This past season the New York Rangers went into a rebuild. The team struggled from the start and it did not get any better. General Manager, Jeff Gorton, decided that it was time for a change at Madison Square Garden. Now the club stands today with a deep prospect pool and a younger team. However, there is one position where the everyday player is not getting younger. That is the position of goalie. Henrik Lundqvist is 36 years old right now. Remarkably, his game has not taken a big step back at his advanced age. As good as Lundqvist has been in the past, Ranger fans are looking towards the future. Lundqvist only has a couple more years left in him and the club needs to start grooming a replacement.
When people think about the Rangers goaltending position, they think of number 30. But what comes after him? Once he retires, the King will leave a big hole in the team. A possible replacement is Alexander Georgiev, who took control of the backup role in the second half of last year. He is a solid goalie but may not get the developing time he needs as the backup this coming season. Goalies need playing time and with Lundqvist in front of him, time may be hard to come by. You may ask, “Georgiev played 10 games and put up decent numbers. He has earned the backup role.” All of that is true and a valid point. Yet, it is not a great idea for him to play a full season with an average defense core in front of him. Personally, I would rather have him dominate the AHL and jell with the young prospects there. It is what the Tampa Bay Lighting did with their core and look where they are now. Developing them all together can have an enormous impact.
While the backup position may be open during camp, there is one goalie that few Ranger fans know of. Adam Huska is a 7th round pick for the Rangers in 2015. He is the starting goalie at the University of Connecticut or UConn for short. You might be asking yourself, how does he factor into playing behind Lundqvist this season? The short answer is that he doesn’t. But, Huska should have a future impact on this club. He could be the diamond in the rough this team is looking for.
Adam Huska is originally from Slovakia. It is a small country in Europe that borders Poland, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Ukraine. The country has produced players such as Zdeno Chara and Marian Hossa to name a few. When he came to North America, he went straight to the USHL and played for a brief time with the Green Bay Gamblers. In his first year, he only played six games, posting a 4.34 goals against average (GAA) and a .866 save percentage (Sv%). That is not a terrible start for only playing six games in the USHL along with being in a new country and learning a new language. It was in his second season where he made a name for himself. He would end up playing 37 games posting a 1.82 GAA and a .931 Sv%. He was a big part of why the Gamblers made the playoffs in the 2015-16 season.
After his big season in the USHL, he decided to play division one hockey at UConn. He currently has two seasons under his belt. Both years, he has done well for himself putting up 2.87, 2.59 GAA, .916, .912 Sv% in 21 and 27 games played respectively. Huska will play his third season at UConn in this upcoming season.
In addition, his strengths were noticed at the World Junior Championship. Huska played in two world junior championship tournaments with his home country. While his numbers at this tournament will tell you one story (5GP, 3.90 GAA, .899 Sv% in 2016 and 3 GP, 5.00 GAA, .873 Sv%) his play will tell you another. Watch this video.
The way he battled the puck and tried to keep his team in games was remarkable. Some of the countries he had to go up against were about 10 times better than Slovakia. The fact that he was able to keep his team in the game for as long as he did with minimal support says something.
Huska has quietly turned heads in the hockey community. It was during his USHL career that he slowly became known, but it was not until he made the national level that he really started to get noticed. Goalies take a long time to perfect their game. Huska will be no exception and will play all four years at UConn. The Rangers system is very deep when it comes to goalies. They recently took another goalie, Olof Lindbom, in the second round of this past draft. It is a very crowded crease and it will take the best of the best to make this team in the future. Based on his performance in the past, Huska will make it difficult to decide who gets to be on the NHL club.