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Power Rankings

Power Rankings: Vezina Trophy Candidates

by Joey Alfieri
Updated On: March 30, 2021, 1:07 am ET

Happy Monday! 

It's time for another edition of the NBC Sports EDGE Power Rankings. 

Today, I'm listing every team's top Vezina Trophy candidate. As always, I'm going by stats and personal opinion. Feel free to disagree with any and all of my picks.

H/T to Natural Stat Trick for the advanced stats in this column.

Don’t forget, for everything NHL, check out NBC Sports EDGE's Player News, and follow @NBCSEdgeHK and @JoeyAlfieri on Twitter.

Enjoy!

1 – Andrei Vasilevskiy – Tampa Bay Lightning:

Not only does the Bolts netminder lead the NHL in victories, he’s also first in goals-saved-above- average at 17.36 (no other goaltender has hit 12 yet). Vasilevskiy owns a 21-5-1 record with a 1.99 goals-against-average and a .930 save percentage this season. He just dropped back-to-back games in regulation for the first time all year. There’s no denying he’s the favorite to win the Vezina right now.

2 – Marc-Andre Fleury – Vegas Golden Knights:

What a difference an off-season makes. The Golden Knights tried to move Fleury during the fall, but they couldn’t find any takers. With Robin Lehner missing a good chunk of the season, Vegas was forced to turn to Fleury and he’s been awesome. He has a 17-7-0 record with a 2.06 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage in 2021.

3 – Philipp Grubauer – Colorado Avalanche:

The Avs goaltender has been really impressive so far in 2021. His personal eight-game winning streak came to an end when he dropped an OT decision to the Golden Knights on Saturday, but that doesn’t take away from everything he’s accomplished this year. Grubauer owns a 20-7-1 record with a 1.73 goals-against-average and an impressive .930 save percentage. He’s 12th in goals-saved-above-replacement at 5.37.

4 – Semyon Varlamov – New York Islanders:

There’s no denying that the focus of the Islanders’ strategy is defense-firsst under head coach Barry Trotz. That makes life easier for their goaltenders, but Varlamov deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done between the pipes in 2021. The 32-year-old has a 14-6-3 record with a 2.19 goals-against-average and a .922 save percentage this season.

5 – Kevin Lankinen – Chicago Blackhawks:

Lankinen’s Vezina Trophy campaign has taken a bit of a hit since the start of this month, but he’s still putting together an unbelievable first year in the NHL. He’s won just three of nine games in March, but he has two victories in his last three outings. He’s second in goals-saved-above-average at 11.56. He’s a big reason why the Hawks are battling for a playoff spot in the Central Division.

6 – Connor Hellebuyck – Winnipeg Jets:

The defending Vezina Trophy winner has gone through some ups and downs this year, but he’s starting to round into tip-top form right now. Hellebuyck has won three games in a row and he’s given up two goals or fewer in each of those outings. He has his work cut out for him if he’s going to make it back-to-back Vezinas, but it’s not out of the question yet. He leads the league in high-danger shots against.

7 – Kaapo Kahkonen – Minnesota Wild:

Cam Talbot could’ve easily made this list, but the rookie has been special between the pipes for the Wild in 2021. There’s a very good chance that he’ll be one of the three finalists for the Calder Trophy and with a big second half, he could also move up this list. The 24-year-old hasn’t played as much lately because Talbot’s been hot, but he’ll be back doing his thing soon enough. He owns a 12-5-0 record with a 2.29 goals-against-average and a .921 save percentage in 2021.

8 -- Frederik Andersen – Toronto Maple Leafs:

Andersen has been sidelined with a lower-body injury over the last three games, but his overall play had dipped before that point. Prior to his injury, he had dropped three games in a row and five of his last six. Jack Campbell has done a good job in his absence, but the Leafs need their starting netminder to become a difference-maker again if they’re going to push for the Stanley Cup.

9 -- Mike Smith – Edmonton Oilers:

Smith missed too much time to be a legit Vezina Trophy candidate, but he’s been terrific since returning to the lineup on Feb. 8. He owns an 11-3-1 record with a 2.44 goals-against-average and a .918 save percentage this season. The 39-year-old came up on the losing end of Saturday’s OT decision against Toronto, but he made several key saves at crucial moments in that game. If he keeps playing like this, the Oilers could do some damage in the playoffs.

10 -- Carey Price- Montreal Canadiens:

Price was slumping so badly earlier this season that Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin decided to fire respected goalie coach Stephane Waite during a game. Price has since turned his season around, but his lack of consistency is concerning. When he’s in the zone, he’s still one of the toughest goalies to beat in the NHL. He owns a 10-5-5 record with a 2.71 goals-against-average and a .903 save percentage. No matter how he looks in the regular season, playing against him in the playoffs should make opponents nervous.

11 -- Tristan Jarry – Pittsburgh Penguins:

Jarry is actually behind teammate Casey DeSmith when it comes to goals-saved-above-average (DeSmith is at 5.60 and Jarry is at 3.17). But Jarry has been the busier of the two goaltenders, so he gets the advantage on this list. The 25-year-old owns a 14-8-2 record with a 2.83 goals-against-average and a .909 save percentage this season. If the Pens are going to lock down a playoff spot, they’ll need their starting netminder to keep playing well.

12 -- Jacob Markstrom – Calgary Flames:

The numbers haven’t necessarily been pretty for Markstrom this year, but the team in front of him hasn’t been very good. Clearly, the Flames are going to ride their starting netminder pretty hard down the stretch. They need him to reach that elite level he was able to play at in Vancouver last year. He owns a 12-11-2 record with a 2.85 goals-against-average and a .904 save percentage this season.

13 -- Thatcher Demko – Vancouver Canucks:

Demko was amazing in the bubble after Jacob Markstrom got injured, but his start to the year wasn’t anywhere close to being at the same level. Before losing a pair of games to the Jets last week, he was in the zone. Demko won eight of nine games and he appeared to be regaining the form he had in the bubble. His future is incredibly bright, but it looks like Vancouver’s season is beyond saving.

14 -- Juuse Saros – Nashville Predators:

Saros missed Sunday’s game against Chicago with an undisclosed injury, but he had been playing well. He’s won three games in a row and he’s given up just two goals during that stretch. Saros had allowed one goal or fewer in five straight games since returning from injury. He’s a big reason why the Preds have gotten themselves back in the playoff picture. His 8.74 goals-saved-above-average is ranked third in the NHL.

15 -- Tuukka Rask – Boston Bruins:

Rask has only played in 15 games this year and he’s currently on the shelf with another injury. He should be able to return soon and the Bruins need him to play at a high level if they’re going to come out of their division this spring. Rask owns an 8-4-2 record with a 2.40 goals-against-average and a .907 save percentage this season.

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16 -- Vitek Vanecek – Washington Capitals:

Vanecek was forced into duty when Ilya Samsonov battled Covid-19, and he’s put together a reasoble rookie season. The two Caps netminders will likely split the net down the stretch, which makes it virtually impossible for either of them to challenge for the Vezina Trophy this year. It looks like Washington will have a nice one-two punch in goal for the next few years.

17 -- Jake Oettinger – Dallas Stars:

Oettinger has played two fewer games than teammate Anton Khudobin, but he’s clearly been the better of the two. The 22-year-old has five wins in 16 games, but he’s also dropped six decisions in OT/shootouts. The youngster is clearly the goalie of the future in Dallas and he should continue to see an increase in starts. He has a 2.28 goals-against-average and a .912 save percentage in 2021.

18 -- Cal Petersen – Los Angeles Kings:

It’s a little premature to suggest that Petersen has taken the starting gig away from veteran Jonathan Quick on a full-time basis, but he’s certainly been the better of the two goalies this year. The 26-year-old has a 6-7-4 record with a 2.54 goals-against-average and a solid .923 save percentage in 2021. The Kings have some ground to make up if they’re going to make the postseason and in order to do that, they’ll need their goalie to shine.

19 -- Igor Shesterkin – New York Rangers:

Shesterkin got off to a tough start in 2021 and he missed an extended period of time due to a groin injury, but he’s been pretty good for the most part. The 25-year-old has a 7-8-1 record with a 2.34 goals-against-average and a .924 save percentage in 2021. He won’t win the Vezina Trophy this year, but he has the potential to win one down the line. Shesterkin is clearly better than Alexandar Georgiev and Keith Kinkaid.

20 -- Jordan Binnington – St. Louis Blues:

We’ve seen Binnington lose his cool a couple of times this season, which shows how frustrating 2021 has been for him. He’s in the middle of a serious rough patch, as he has just one win in his last seven decisions. Luckily for him, he inked a long-term extension before entering this recent slump. He has a 10-10-4 record with a 2.77 goals-against-average and a .904 save percentage this season.

21 -- Jonathan Bernier – Detroit Red Wings:

Bernier’s numbers while playing for a rebuilding Red Wings team are a little bit shocking, especially when you compare them to teammate Thomas Greiss’ stats. The 32-year-old has been sidelined by an injury, but he has a respectable 8-6-0 record with a 2.78 goals-against-average and a .918 save percentage this season. Bernier is sixth in the league in goals-saved-above-average, with 6.89.

22 -- Mackenzie Blackwood – New Jersey Devils:

Blackwood had to deal with an upper-body injury and a Covid-19 outbreak on his team this year, but he’s put together a respectable season. He owns a 9-9-1 record with a 2.82 goals-against-average and a .911 save percentage this season. Blackwood posted a 40-save shutout against the Boston Bruins on Sunday.

23 -- Sergei Bobrovsky – Florida Panthers:

Bobrovsky hasn’t even been the best goalie on his own team, but he’s on the list because of his reputation (two Vezina Trophies gives you some street cred). Chris Driedger has played five fewer games than Bobrovsky, but his numbers are way more impressive than his teammate’s. The Russian netminder has an underwhelming 2.91 goals-against-average and a .903 save percentage in 2021. Giving him a long-term contract was a mistake.

24 -- Alex Nedeljkovic – Carolina Hurricanes:

Nedeljkovic is getting more of an opportunity to play because of the injury to Petr Mrazek and because he’s actually played well for Carolina. The 25-year-old has an 8-2-2 record with a 2.05 goals-against-average and a .929 save percentage this season. He’s showing that he could play a big role for the Hurricanes for years to come.

25 -- Joonas Korpisalo – Columbus Blue Jackets:

Korpisalo is dealing with a lower-body injury, but he should be back in the near future. The Blue Jackets netminder was going through a rough stretch before the injury, as he had won just one of his previous six games. He owns an 8-10-6 record with a 3.02 goals-against-average and a .899 save percentage in 2021.

26 -- John Gibson – Anaheim Ducks:

If this list was about ranking talent, Gibson would be near the top of the list. Unfortunately for him, the team in front of him hasn’t given him much of a shot at winning the Vezina this year. The Ducks are in a rebuild and there’s not much the 27-year-old can do to drag them into the postseason. If we’re looking at his goals-saved-above-average, he’s at a disappointing 1.17.

27 -- Linus Ullmark – Buffalo Sabres:

It’s too bad the Sabres are as terrible as they are because Ullmark deserves some positive recognition for the season he’s put together. Clearly, Buffalo would have been much better off if he didn’t miss 15 games with a lower-body injury. Ullmark is 13th in the NHL in goals-saved-above-average at 5.23. He’s ahead of goalies like Demko, Price and Shesterkin in that category. On many other teams, Ullmark would be higher on the list.

28 -- Darcy Kuemper – Arizona Coyotes:

Kuemper has been out for a while with a lower-body injury and Adin Hill has done a nice job replacing him. Still, Kuemper is the leader in the clubhouse when it comes to Vezina candidates in Arizona. His return date is still unclear and there’s no chance he’ll be a serious contender for the award in 2021.

29 -- Martin Jones – San Jose Sharks:

The Sharks went into this season with a veteran goaltending duo made up of Jones and Devan Dubnyk. Unfortunately for San Jose, that hasn’t really helped them much in 2021. Jones has a 10-7-2 record with a 3.32 goals-against-average and a .898 save percentage this year. The 31-year-old still has three years remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $5.75 million per season, so he’ll be in San Jose for a while.

30 -- Carter Hart – Philadelphia Flyers:

Hart took a huge step forward last year, but he’s regressed in a big way in 2021. The Flyers netminder still has a bright future ahead of him, but he’s going to have to regroup this off-season and figure things out. He has an ugly 4.04 goals-against-average and a .869 save percentage. His minus-18.08 goals-saved-above-average is the lowest in the entire NHL.

31 -- Matt Murray – Ottawa Senators:

Murray was one of Ottawa’s big off-season acquisitions and he simply hasn’t worked out with his new squad. He was awful in the first quarter of the season and although he turned his game around for a bit, he’s now been out with an upper-body injury. He has a 7-12-1 record with a 3.84 goals-against-average and a .880 save percentage in 2021. Murray has three years remaining on his deal at an expensive cap hit of $6.25 million. 

Joey Alfieri

Joey is a Montreal-born hockey writer that has been with NBC Sports EDGE since 2014. He's also been working in sports-talk radio for the better part of the last decade. Joey isn't a fan of the puck-over-glass penalty and he'll let you know about it on Twitter @joeyalfieri.