While the NHL has made it clear it intends to do everything it can to save its season this year, there are many who feel that while the playoffs are still likely, even if they come at the end of the summer, the likelihood of the regular season playing out are a little less likely. Pro Hockey Rumors has already conducted polls on who might win the Calder Trophy and the Hart Trophy. So, the next question is, if the season ended on Mar. 11, who would walk away with the Vezina Trophy?
Perhaps the top candidate to receive the award is the goaltender for the best team. The Boston Bruins have dominated all year with a 44-14-12 for 100 points and much of their success could be credited to goaltender Tuukka Rask, who has had one of the best seasons of his career, which compares to his Vezina Trophy season in 2013-14 when he had a 2.04 GAA and a .930 save percentage in 58 starts. This year, Rask has accumulated 28 wins in 41 appearances with a 2.12 GAA and a .929 save percentage after carrying his team to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. He also has accomplished that with an often injured blueline in which has seen almost every member of the defense see injured reserve at different points throughout the season.
Perhaps his top competition would be Winnipeg Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck. The 26-year-old’s numbers might not compare well to Rask, however, the netminder has had a tougher road in terms of challenges. The Jets lost quite a bit on defense last offseason, which included the losses of Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Ben Chiarot and Jacob Trouba with only Neal Pionk being a major addition to the team. Despite the major losses on defense, however, Hellebuyck was the difference-maker, keeping Winnipeg relevant for much of the season and helping them to a current wild card spot, if the playoffs began today. He has already appeared in 58 out of 71 games and, while his 2.58 GAA is just OK, he’s had an impressive .922 save percentage this year.
The other candidate would be Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy, last year’s Vezina winner. While the goaltender got to a slow start early on in the season, he’s been much more dominant in the second half of the season. In 28 appearances through December, Vasilevskiy had just a .906 save percentage, not up to his usual greatness. However, he was more dominant once 2020 hit, posting a 9-0 record in 10 appearances in January, while boasting a dominant .948 save percentage and was looking to have a good March as well before the season got cut down. In all, Vasilevskiy has a 2.53 GAA and a .918 save percentage.
One other interesting candidate, Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper, might be an interesting one affected by injury. The 29-year-old was near the top of Vezina Trophy consideration in December before suffering a lengthy lower-body injury that held him out for nearly two months. Unfortunately, he has only appeared in 29 games for the season, but his 2.22 GAA and .928 save percentage were dominant. However,
It’s impossible to include every candidate and there are other interesting goaltenders in there not getting consideration like Dallas’ Ben Bishop and St. Louis’ Jordan Binnington, but we’ll keep the list to four goaltenders.
For Pro Hockey app users, click here to vote.