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Some years, the NHL Awards are more intriguing than others. This season, it sure looks like we might get a first-time winner of the Vezina Trophy.
Yes, Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy is still in the hunt, but there are a few newcomers that could come away with the hardware in 2021-22.
Here's the list:
1- Jack Campbell – Toronto Maple Leafs:
Campbell wasn’t the biggest reason the Leafs blew a 3-1 series lead to Montreal last season, but he didn’t help matters. The 30-year-old has emerged as a legitimate Vezina Trophy candidate in the first half of the season. He’s second in the league in goals-saved-above-average, with 12.63. Campbell and his teammates will have o make a statement in the playoffs though.
2- Igor Shesterkin – New York Rangers;
Shesterkin has been on the Covid-19 list for the better part of one week, but that doesn’t take away from what he’s done this season. The Russian netminder has helped backstop the Rangers to a great start to the year (they’re second in the Metro). He and Campbell are tied for the league lead in save percentage (.936) among goalies with at least 20 appearances.
3- Juuse Saros – Nashville Predators:
Saros is finally the clear-cut starting goalie in Nashville and he’s emerged as a strong netminder. He’s tied for first in the league with 19 wins and he’s 5th in goals-saved-above-average, with 9.97. The Preds are first in the Central Division largely because of Saros’ goaltending. He could legitimately win the Vezina Trophy.
4- Andrei Vasilevskiy – Tampa Bay Lightning:
Vasilevskiy is tied for the lead in the NHL in victories, with 19. The 27-year-old missed three games because he was in Covid-19 protocol and it’s abundantly clear that his team is better with him in nets. He’s seven in goals-saved-above-average and he’s faced the sixth most xG against (49.2).
5- Tristan Jarry – Pittsburgh Penguins:
Jarry flamed out in last year’s playoffs, but he’s bounced back in a big way. He has an impressive 17-6-4 record with a 1.94 goals-against-average and a .931 save percentage this season. According to Natural Stat Trick, he’s fourth in the league in goals-saved-above-average at 10.59.
6- Frederik Andersen – Carolina Hurricanes:
Andersen’s first year in Carolina has gone very well. He’s riding a seven-game winning streak heading into this week and he’s allowed two goals or fewer in five of those outings. He has an 18-5-0 record with a 1.96 goals-against-average and a .929 save percentage this season. His teammates have played in a big role in his success too, as Andersen is ranked 21st in the NHL in high-danger chances against (114), per Natural Stat Trick.
7- Sergei Bobrovsky – Florida Panthers:
The first two years of Bobrovsky’s tenure in Florida weren’t very good, but he’s turned in a solid season so far. In his last five games, he’s 4-0-1 and he owns an impressive 16-3-3 record in 2021-22. Florida will eventually go to Spencer Knight, but Bobrovsky won’t go down without a fight.
8- Jacob Markstrom – Calgary Flames:
The Flames got off to a great start, but they’ve hit a bit of a snag. Markstrom has dropped four of his last six decisions and he’s given up at least four goals in three of his last four outings. The Flames goalie still owns a the fifth best save percentage in the game among goalies with at least 20 appearances. Markstrom’s 8.68 goals-saved-above-average ranks eighth in the NHL. His five shutouts rank first in the NHL.
9- Thatcher Demko – Vancouver Canucks:
The Canucks are four points out of a playoff spot after a dreadful start and they’ll need Demko to keep playing big if they’re gonna have a chance to get back in the race. No one is ahead of him in goals-saved-above-average this season (12.73) and he’s been in nets for 15 of Vancouver’s 16 wins this year.
10- Connor Hellebuyck – Winnipeg Jets:
The 2020 Vezina Trophy winner isn’t having his best statistical season, but he’s done a reasonable job in nets for the Jets. Hellebuyck has won three of his last four games, but he’s coming off a seven-goal outing in a loss to Colorado. He has a 13-10-4 record with a 2.83 goals-against-average and a .913 save percentage this season.
11- Ilya Sorokin – New York Islanders:
Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov have been alternating starts for the most part lately, but Sorokin has played more this season because Varlamov was dealing with an injury. The 26-year-old has an 8-7-5 record with a 2.46 goals-against-average and a .925 save percentage this season. Sorokin is ninth in goals-saved-above-average at 8.21.
12- Jonathan Quick – Los Angeles Kings:
It appeared as though the Kings were transitioning from Quick to Cal Petersen, but that changed this year. Quick has been really solid. He’s third in the NHL in goals-saved-above-average behind Thatcher Demko and Jack Campbell. Quick has one year remaining on his contract while Petersen’s $5 million per year extension kicks in next season.
13- Ilya Samsonov – Washington Capitals:
Samsonov’s advanced stats aren’t great, but his traditional stats are slightly better. He has a 13-3-3 record with a 2.76 goals-against-average and a .903 save percentage. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but the Caps continue to win when he’s between the pipes. Samsonov is 27th in XG against this season.
14- Jordan Binnington – St. Louis Blues:
Binnington has rattled off three victories in his last four outings. He missed eight games because he was in Covid-19 protocol and he’s given up four goals or more three times since returning. The Blues goalie has an 11-7-3 record with a 2.90 goals-against-average and a .910 save percentage this season. If he can play at an elite level, the Blues will have a great shot at making a deep playoff run.
15- John Gibson – Anaheim Ducks:
Gibson missed Anaheim’s last game because he was in Covid-19 protocol. Despite winning his last start, he dropped his previous five decisions. The Ducks have exceeded expectations even though Gibson’s individual numbers aren’t the greatest this year. Gibson is actually 82nd in the NHL this year when it comes to goals-saved-above-average (minus-4.15).
16- Darcy Kuemper – Colorado Avalanche:
Kuemper hasn’t been great during his first season in Colorado, but he’s found a way to collect victories along the way. That’s mainly because the Avs have been great lately though. He’s put together five and seven-game winning streaks already in 2021-22. He owns a 16-5-0 record with a 2.77 goals-against-average and a .908 save percentage this season.
17- Robin Lehner – Vegas Golden Knights:
The Golden Knights have dealt with important players being out of the lineup and that includes Lehner. He owns a 15-10-0 record with a 2.92 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage this season. He’s given up just three goals in two games since returning to the lineup.
18– Alex Nedeljkovic – Detroit Red Wings:
Nedeljkovic was a shrewd acquisition by GM Steve Yzerman and he’s given the Red Wings some stable goaltending. His goals-saved-above-average is 16th in the NHL (3.94), per Natural Stat Trick. He’s also seventh in XG against (48.76), which means he’s facing some quality scoring opportunities.
19– Jake Oettinger – Dallas Stars:
Oettinger has played in six fewer games than teammate Braden Holtby, but he’s managed to come away with two more wins. The 23-year-old is clearly the Stars goalie of the future (maybe the present, too). Oettinger has a 2.22 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage this season. If he plays more, he could realistically climb this list very soon.
20– Cam Talbot – Minnesota Wild:
Talbot’s missed the last two games because of a lower-body injury (he was hurt during the Winter Classic Game against St. Louis). He’s managed to put together 15 wins through 24 outings, but his individual numbers aren’t great. Talbot ha a 15-8-1 record with a 3.00 goals-against-average and a .909 save percentage this season.
21– Linus Ullmark – Boston Bruins:
The Bruins signed Ullmark in free agency and that decision has proven to be okay at this point. Last week, the team announced that their AHL affiliate, Providence, had signed Tuukka Rask to a professional tryout. It sure seems like it’ll only be a matter of time before he takes over in Boston’s net.
22– Elvis Merzlikins – Columbus Blue Jackets:
Merzlikins is sidelined by a lower-body injury right now. The Blue Jackets have won 16 games this season and Merzlikins has been between the pipes for 12 of those victories. He has a 12-8-1 record with a 3.20 goals-against-average and a .907 save percentage this season. He’d move up the list if he could help get Columbus in the playoffs.
23– James Reimer – San Jose Sharks:
The Sharks had a horrendous season last year, but they’ve put the pieces back together this year. They’re tied for the final Wild Card spot and Reimer’s one of the reasons for that. He has an 11-7-1 record with a 2.68 goals-against-average and a .916 save percentage.
24– Marc-Andre Fleury – Chicago Blackhawks:
There’s a chance that Fleury won’t make it to the end of the season with the Blackhawks because he’s a pending UFA and he could be traded. The 37-year-old won the Vezina Trophy last year, so there could be a team with Stanley Cup aspirations that decides to give up a draft pick for him.
25– Carter Hart – Philadelphia Flyers:
Hart is having a slightly better season than he did last year, but it’s still not good enough. The 23-year-old owns a 7-10-4 record with a 2.92 goals-against-average and a .912 save percentage. I know people in Philadelphia want results right away, but Hart is still so young. Even Carey Price had some hiccups after a strong first year.
26– Mackenzie Blackwood – New Jersey Devils:
The Devils spent money this off-season and they also had young players that were supposed to improve their roster. Blackwood has provided them with decent goaltending, but that hasn’t resulted in more victories. He has a 9-8-3 record with a 3.24 goals-against-average and a .898 save percentage.
27– Jake Allen – Montreal Canadiens:
Allen wasn’t playing well early on, but he turned it around in a hurry. Unfortunately for him, the team in front of him is so bad that it hasn’t resulted in more wins. The 31-year-old just missed four games because he was in Covid-19 protocol, but it sounds like he’ll be back on Wednesday.
28– Philipp Grubauer – Seattle Kraken:
Seattle has proven to be a “typical” expansion team in their first year. They shelled out a lot of money to sign Grubauer, but he’s been pretty bad this year. It’s one thing to play with the Avalanche, it’s something totally different to play for this team. The 30-year-old has the worst goals-saved-above-average at minus-18.34.
29– Mikko Koskinen – Edmonton Oilers:
The Oilers have one of the worst goalie situations in the league with Mike Smith and Koskinen, but they have talent all over the roster. It’s time for Ken Holland to make a move to improve that position because they can’t keep wasting Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl’s best years.
30– Anton Forsberg – Ottawa Senators:
Matt Murray was supposed to be “the guy” for years to come in Ottawa, but his contract hasn’t aged particularly well. Forsberg has stepped up and filled the void in the crease. He has a 6-5-1 record with a 3.16 goals-against-average and a .908 save percentage so far this season. The Sens are going to need to upgrade in goal when the rest of their team is ready to compete for a playoff spot.
31– Dustin Tokarski – Buffalo Sabres:
Despite missing the last 12 games because of Covid-19 protocol, Tokarski still leads the Sabres in starts in 2021-22. The 32-year-old has played at a respectable level given how bad the Sabres are. He has a 4-5-3 record with a 3.28 goals-against-average and a .903 save percentage this season. He’s probably more of an AHL goalie, but him being back in the NHL is a nice story.
32– Karel Vejmelka – Arizona Coyotes:
I totally understand if you don’t know who this is, but I kind of like him. Like a lot of the goalies at the bottom of this list, Vejmelka, 25, has played in 19 games this year, which is a nice surprise, but his record doesn’t jump off the page. He has a 3-13-1 record with a 3.30 goals-against-average and a .904 save percentage this season. Maybe he develops into a starter at some point, but he and his teammates need some work.