The Vezina Trophy goes to the NHL’s best goaltender. Previous winners and nominees remain in the race this year with one surprise contender. Here are four possible winners:
Vasilevskiy’s name is relevant yet again after having a few consecutive great years. He has made the Tampa Bay Lightning a top-caliber NHL team. Through fourteen starts, Vasilevskiy has a 9.26 GSAA and a 9.82 GSAx. These stats are of him isolated in the net. Most people believe that he’s a great goalie because of his team, but these stats clearly show his incredible talent. The Lightning have won ten games with Vasilevskiy starting. As a former Vezina winner, he knows what to do to be considered a top goalie.
After a late-season trade for Robin Lehner, Marc-Andre Fleury’s future with the Vegas Golden Knights remained a question. Fleury was not on the trade block through the offseason, and the Golden Knights seemed to stay loyal to him. Lehner’s injury has benefited Fleury, as he is the uncontested goalie for Vegas. Forgetting about Vegas’ goalie problems, Fleury has been having a great season. He has a 9.54 GSAA and an 8.12 GSAx. Compared to Vasilevskiy, his numbers are lower. Part of that is because Fleury is way more reliant on his defense. Despite this, he has won eight games out of his first eleven starts.
Here is the surprise. I’m sure most of you haven’t heard of Kevin Lankinen, but the Chicago Blackhawks are lucky to have him as their goalie. When Chicago traded away Robin Lehner to the Golden Knights, they got Malcolm Subban in return. At the beginning of the season, Chicago had backup goalies between Subban and Collin Delia. Lankinen wasn’t even in the race. But Subban’s early struggles opened the way for a new opportunity for Lankinen. Lankinen has won seven games for the Blackhawks on thirteen starts with an 8.61 GSAA and a 5.58 GSAx. A GSAA higher than Vasilevskiy is incredible. This dude has tremendous skill. The Blackhawks have jumped in the standings due to his success. Although it is unlikely for him to win, it’s important to recognize when a goalie is having an incredible season, especially an unexpected one.
The Colorado Avalanche has been a top team in the Western Conference. Now, with a goalie like Grubauer, their chances are even higher. Coming off an injury, he is having the best season of his career. With an 8.16 GSAA and a 6.97 GSAx, the Avalanche are in good hands. Grubauer has won nine out of his first thirteen starts.
These four goaltenders have been incredible to start the year. They must maintain their strong play to be in consideration for the award. My pick is Andrei Vasilevskiy for his second Vezina Trophy in three years.