Over the next week, the NHL will be releasing the finalists for all of the major regular season awards. After yesterday’s Norris announcement, next up is the Vezina Trophy, which is given to the best goaltender in the NHL and is voted on by the league’s general managers.
Markstrom, 32, is a finalist for the first time, following his best and most consistent season to date. Appearing in 63 games for the Pacific Division-winning Flames, the big netminder won 37 games, posted a .922 save percentage, and led the league with nine shutouts. The backbone for his team all season long, Markstrom was a huge part of the stingy Flames team that turned from a high-flying circus into a controlled, defensive team under head coach Darryl Sutter.
Shesterkin, 26, is the odds-on favorite to win the award, despite his recent struggles in the playoffs. The Rangers would have been absolutely lost without him this season, and he led the league in both save percentage and person goals-against average. That .935 mark was ten points higher than his nearest competitor and raised Shesterkin’s career number to something of legends. Among goaltenders with at least 100 NHL appearances (he has exactly that), his .928 career save percentage is well ahead of Dominik Hasek’s .922 for first place. It will obviously be hard to maintain that over a whole career, but the Russian netminder is off to a historic start.
Saros meanwhile shouldn’t be forgotten. The 27-year-old netminder appeared in 67 games for the Predators, more than any other goaltender in the league, despite being injured in the final week. Last year’s sixth-place finisher, he posted a strong .918 save percentage and dragged Nashville into a playoff spot. One of the smallest goaltenders in the league at 5’11”, Saros continues to show why the Predators were so excited about his development even when they still had Pekka Rinne in place as the starter. Since his rookie season in 2016-17, Saros hasn’t posted a save percentage under .914 and now has a career mark of .920 in 222 appearances, good for seventh on the all-time list.