The NHL continues to release the finalists for the major regular season awards, this time announcing the nominees for the Vezina Trophy. The award is given to the best goaltender in the NHL and is voted on by the league’s general managers.
Vasilevskiy took home the award last season after putting up a .925 save percentage in 53 games, but couldn’t maintain quite the same level this time around. His save percentage dropped to .917, though he led the league in wins for the third consecutive season with 35. The Russian goaltender has had just about as much success as anyone to start his career, recording 159 regular season wins in his first 260 games. Amazingly, that already puts him 118th all-time despite not turning 26 for another week. A three-time Vezina finalist, he’ll likely be in the conversation for a while longer.
Hellebuyck meanwhile is only a little over a year older than Vasilevskiy and has experienced his own prolonged success to start his career. He led the NHL in starts this season with 58, putting the Jets on his back for long stretches when they were trying to patch a defensive corps together with spare parts. His .922 may not lead the league, but his 1,656 saves do as did his six shutouts. Hellebuyck could potentially be a candidate for the Hart Trophy as one of the most valuable players in the league given where the Jets would be without him.
Rask, 33, is an aging veteran compared to the two other finalists, but he is not slowing down in terms of performance. The Bruins netminder has benefited from having a strong backup the last few years and played just 41 games this season, but posted an incredible .929 save percentage in those appearances. After raising his career save percentage to .922, Rask is now third all-time behind only Dominik Hasek and Johnny Bower (among goaltenders with recorded shot totals). He already won the Jennings Trophy as part of the goaltending duo with the lowest goals against average, and took home the Vezina in 2014.