The Middle of the Season is Here And the Vezina Trophy Conversations Are Just Heating Up. Some Goaltenders Have Already Proved Why They Should Be Frontrunners For the Trophy and Have Been Making Strong Campaigns For the Vezina.
The 2016-17 NHL season is flying and many teams are still battling it out to lead their respective divisions. These top teams have a lot of thanks to give to their goaltenders for the elite performances they have been putting forward. Such goaltenders have become frontrunners for the Vezina.
The Vezina Trophy is given annually to the goaltender that is adjudged to be the best at his position. Every season the top goaltender is rewarded with the Vezina after being voted the recipient by the general managers of the NHL clubs.
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A few goaltenders have already been standing out this season and will be mentioned heavily in the Vezina discussion. These goalies are causing quite the stir and have been performing excellently for their teams.
Here, we’ll go over the top five candidate campaigns for the 2016-17 Vezina Trophy.
Oct 30, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) warms up prior to the game against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
5. Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens
Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens is one of the NHL’s most elite goaltenders. Price took home the Vezina in 2015 before missing almost the entire 2015-16 season after sustaining a knee injury. Now, Price is back and just as good of a goalie as he was during his best seasons.
Price has a great reputation throughout the league as a goaltender and as a teammate. The goaltender ranks in the top ten on the goalie leaderboards for his GAA (2.12), his save percentage (.928), his total 20 wins and his two shutouts so far this season.
Price is an elite goaltender and if he keeps up his play he has the potential to keep climbing the leaderboard. The elite goaltender would make a great candidate for the Vezina Trophy, especially after having such a smooth and successful season following his injury.
Price will always be a top ranking player and his ability to come back strong for his team following his long time away with injury shows that he wants to keep his play strong and his wins high. The Montreal Canadiens’ first place in the Atlantic Division is very reflective of the play that Price has been putting forward this season.
Feb 6, 2016; Newark, NJ, USA; Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) makes a save during the first period of their game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
4. Braden Holtby – Washington Capitals
Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals is an elite goaltender. In fact, Holtby took home the Vezina Trophy last season after the Capitals’ league-leading season run.
It isn’t unusual to see Holtby having an incredible season. Holtby is tied for third for most wins (20) and his save percentage of .931, second in the league for his GAA of 1.90 and tied for first with five shutouts.
The Capitals currently rank in at third in the Metropolitan Division, tied with the Rangers and Penguins with 57 points, but their games-in-hand over New York give them third. Last season the Capitals finished as President Trophy winners with 120 points, their smallest lead being 11 points.
Holtby had a career-high in wins last season and brought the Capitals great success, which led to his 2015-16 award of the Vezina Trophy. The question is- can Holtby win the Vezina consecutively? It has been done before and wouldn’t be surprising if the elite goaltender will join the others who have won consecutive Vezinas.
NHL Power Rankings: Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) makes a save during the first period against the St. Louis Blues at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
3. Tuukka Rask – Boston Bruins
Tuukka Rask last took home the Vezina Trophy in 2014 but has also been a solid goaltender for the Boston Bruins. Rask has always been a reliable and elite goaltender for the Bruins and this season is no different.
This season, Rask is third in the NHL with his 1.93 GAA, tied for third with most wins (20) and tied for first with most shutouts (5). Rask also ranks high on the goalie leaderboard for his high save percentage of .928.
Rask is having an impressive season and isn’t very far from breaking his previous career-highs if he keeps it up. Rask’s career-highs are a save percentage of .931 and a GAA of 1.97.
Rask is an elite goaltender and seeing him have a great season isn’t surprising. The Bruins are currently second in the Atlantic Division and are fighting to stay ahead of their competition. Boston wants a strong playoff run this season and with their recent play combined with Rask’s elite performance, they will have no problem doing so.
Oct 23, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) looks for the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the first period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
2. Sergei Bobrovsky – Columbus Blue Jackets
Sergei Bobrovsky has been incredible for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season. Bobrovsky has been one of the biggest contributors to the Jackets’ extremely successful season, therefore it isn’t surprising that the goalie would land himself on the list.
Bobrovsky leads the NHL with the most wins (26) and is prominent on the NHL’s goaltending leaderboard. The goalie has a save percentage of .931 and a goals-against average of 2.00. When it comes to shutouts, Bobrovsky has three, compared to the league-leading five count.
Bobrovsky is posting career-highs this season and is performing his best for the Blue Jackets since joining the team in 2012. The performance Bobrovsky has had this season has brought him a lot of praise and has brought his team many victories.
Despite the end of the Blue Jackets’ record-breaking winning streak, the Blue Jackets are still first in the Metropolitan Division with a league-leading 60 points. Bobrovsky is a huge contributor to the team’s success and will continue to be such an important factor.
This success has made Bobrovsky’s campaign for the Vezina a very strong one.
Mar 28, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk (40) in the second period against the Los Angeles Kings at Xcel Energy Center. The Minnesota Wild beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Dubnyk tops the NHL’s goalie leaderboard. The goaltender ranks in first in the league with his GGA (1.80), with his save percentage (.939), and for his five shutouts. He places second with for most wins, with 21 wins this season.
Dubnyk is reaching career highs this season and has been putting forward elite-level play for Minnesota. The Wild places second in the Central Division and is planning to make a strong playoff run this season.
Minnesota placed fifth in the Central Division this season and didn’t have the season they were looking for, but this season is different. With Dubnyk’s strong play and a revitalization of the team, the Wild is looking to go all the way this season.
Dubnyk has a very strong campaign for the Vezina considering the highs he is reaching and how much success he is bringing to his team. Though Dubnyk has never taken the Vezina home before, this might be his year.