Every year the Vezina Trophy is awarded the best goaltender in the NHL. However, unlike most NHL awards that are voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, the Vezina Trophy is determined by a poll of all 32 NHL General Managers.
Last season, Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights won the Vezina Trophy. It was a surprising victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy. Fleury was then swiftly traded to Chicago in the off-season. Since then, he’s failed to produce the results that made him the winner last season. So, will Vasilevskiy take the crown this season, or has another contender emerged?
Vezina Trophy Betting Odds
The NHL is entering the final third of the season, and as a result, award talk is heating up. The Vezina Trophy is always one of the most heavily discussed NHL awards, and DraftKings Sportsbook has betting odds for you.
- Igor Shesterkin (New York Rangers) -120
- Jacob Markstrom (Calgary Flames) +600
- Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay Lightning) +750
- Jack Campbell (Toronto Maple Leafs) +1200
- Juuse Saros (Nashville Predators) +1400
- Sergei Bobrovsky (Florida Panthers) +2000
Those of you that have been following the NHL closely will probably be aware that Igor Shesterkin is looking like the runaway candidate for the Vezina Trophy this season. After showing promise in his first season as a starter last year, Shesterkin has exploded onto the scene this season.
In 32 starts this season, Shesterkin has won 25 times while sporting a 0.940 save percentage, and a 1.98 GAA. His save percentage is ranked first in the league by a wide margin. His GAA is second, only slightly behind Ville Husso who has only started 18 games. Those stats are so impressive that he’s not just the Vezina favorite, he’s in the MVP conversation.
While the stats clearly point toward Shesterkin as the Vezina Trophy favorite, his team’s performance will also be in the minds of voters. His New York Rangers currently sit second in the Metropolitan Division after missing the playoffs in each of the last four seasons. While the Rangers were picked by many to improve this season, they are significantly outperforming expectations. Team performance is looked at in all NHL awards, but even more so with the Vezina. If Shesterkin can keep up this performance and keep the Rangers in the top three of the Metropolitan, he could win the Vezina unanimously.
Last year, Jacob Markstrom left the Vancouver Canucks in free agency after leading them to the second round. He chose to sign with their rival, the Calgary Flames. He was expected to lead the Flames to a deep playoff run while they competed in the Canadian Division. However, Markstrom and the entire Flames team underperformed and missed the playoffs.
This year, the Flames have bounced back in a big way. They currently sit atop the Pacific Division. Much of their success this season comes as a result of the play of Markstrom. His save percentage is 0.926, and his GAA is 2.11, placing him 4th in the league in both categories. He’s also won 23 of his 40 starts. However, the stat that really brings him into Vezina contention is his eight shutouts. The next closest players only have four, meaning that Markstrom has twice as many shutouts as his next closest competitor.
There have only been a handful of NHL goaltenders to get 10 or more shutouts in modern history. The record in the modern era is 13, which was set by Dominik Hasek in 1998. If Markstrom can eclipse 10 shutouts or get close to Hasek’s record, many voters will choose to vote for him over Shesterkin. The Flames have 32 games left to play, so it’s a possibility.
If you were to ask an NHL media person or fan who the best goalie in the league is, most of them would say Andrei Vasilevskiy. Having won back-to-back Stanley Cups 2021 and 2021, and a Vezina Trophy in 2019, Vasilevskiy is looking like the best goaltender of this era.
This season has been another impressive season for him as he sits ninth in save percentage at 0.921 and seventh in GAA with a 2.29. In 39 starts, Vasilevskiy has won 27 times, and his Tampa Bay Lightning sit firmly in the top three of the Atlantic Division.
Unfortunately for Vasilevskiy, his history is working against him. While this season would be fantastic by the standards of most goalies, it is just average for him. Additionally, voter fatigue might start to come into play as he has finished top three in voting for four straight seasons. There’s a good chance Vasilevskiy will be a finalist but winning the Vezina is looking unlikely this season.
If we looked at the odds when the NHL paused around Christmas, Jack Campbell would rank much higher. At the time, Campbell was playing better than anyone else in the league. His Maple Leafs were the hottest team in the league, and the narrative that Campbell should be in the Vezina conversation was starting to emerge.
Unfortunately, January and February have been ugly for Campbell. His play has dropped off significantly, and it looks like his confidence is shattered. He’s still winning games because the Maple Leafs are scoring at a tremendous rate, but his save percentage and GAA have taken a dip. In his last 12 starts, he’s only had a save percentage higher than 0.900 four times.
The thing that Campbell has going for him is that despite his cold streak, his stats for the season still look good. His 0.920 save percentage ranks 11th, and his 2.46 GAA ranks 15th. He also has 23 wins in 36 starts which ranks eighth. If Campbell can get himself together down the stretch, he can get himself back in the Vezina conversation.
Juuse Saros is another player whose candidacy is hurt by recent play. However, in the case of Saros, it isn’t just his play that has suffered, but his team’s as a whole. The Predators were looking like a playoff lock for most of the season, but after losing five of six games in late January and early February, they find themselves in the first wild card spot.
Fortunately for Saros, this bad stretch hasn’t been nearly as long as Campbell’s. he had four poor performances in a row, but he bounced back vs Dallas on February 24th. As long as he doesn’t have another bad stretch, he will be right in the mix for the Vezina.
Saros ranks sixth in save percentage with a 0.924, 14th in GAA with a 2.45, and he has 25 wins in 43 starts.
The final player we’re going to look at today is a bit of an enigma. Sergei Bobrovsky has won two Vezina Trophies in the past, but his career looked like it was in freefall after disastrous 2020 and 2021 campaigns. However, he has bounced back this season, sporting a 0.917 save percentage and 2.58 GAA. Those stats place him 18th and 19th in the league respectively.
While those stats are only average, what really puts Bobrovsky in the conversation is the success of his team. The Florida Panthers are one of the best teams in the league, and Bobrovsky has 26 wins to show for it in just 36 starts. We discussed it earlier, but team success is more important with the Vezina than any other award. If Bobrovsky leads the league in wins while maintaining decent stats, he will be in the Vezina conversation at the end of the year.
Our Vezina Prediction
Now it’s time for us to make our Vezina prediction. You probably want us to go off the board to make an interesting pick, but we can’t do that. As much as we don’t like picking the favorite, there is no denying how great Igor Shesterkin has been this season. He’s having one of the best seasons of all time for a goaltender. So, it would be truly shocking if he maintains this level of play and doesn’t win the Vezina. You won’t win a lot of money betting on him with -120 odds, but we don’t see him losing a vote at this point.
The Best Vezina Value Pick
When looking at the other contenders, they need to do something special to separate themselves from Shesterkin. All five of the other candidates are in the mix to lead the league in wins, which would be significant, but not enough. However, Markstrom has the chance to set an NHL record in shutouts.
If Markstrom gets close to the modern shutout record, he will probably win the Vezina. The league’s general managers aren’t going to ignore a historic season, so Markstrom could be in the mix. While he’s the second leading candidate, he’s still our value pick. At +600, you will still get a good payout if he wins, and he’s the only goalie that can do something to upset Shesterkin at this point.