Connor Hellebuyck, Tuukka Rask and Andrei Vasilevskiy are named finalists for the Vezina Trophy. The NHL has also announced finalists for the Lady Byng Award, Ted Lindsay Award, Calder Trophy and Jack Adams Award. The award is given to the best NHL goaltender of the season and voted on by all 31 NHL general managers. The Vezina Trophy winner will be announced during either the conference or Stanley Cup Finals. Let’s take a closer look at the Vezina Trophy finalists.
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
Hellebuyck has played more than 50 games this season. This the fourth straight season that he’s played 50 or more games in one season. He also led the league in shoutouts with six. The Jets goaltender finishes second in wins (31) and seventh in save percentage (.922) among goalies who have played at least 20 games. He also finished the season with a 31-21-5 record with a 2.57 goals-against average. Hellebuyck was the runner up for the award in 2017-18 behind Nashville Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne.
“To be where [I am] now it’s very cherishable and it’s a great moment,” Hellebuyck said. “I hope [I] can continue to build on it. As you get older, you start learning the game and your game and you start managing it better, start managing your energy levels and you manage what’s going on around you better.”
The No. 8 seed Winnipeg Jets will play against the No. 8 seed Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers in a best-of-five series to determine who moves on to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
Rask helped the Bruins finish as the league’s best team of the season getting them the Presidents’ Trophy. Rask also finished the season with a record of 26-8-6 and helped the team win the Jennings Trophy along with backup goalie Jaroslav Halak. They both combined for 167 goals allowed which is the fewest by any goalie tandem this season. The Finnish goaltender also led the league in goals allowed average with a 2.12 GAA. Rask tied for second in shutouts (5) and came in second in save percentage (.929) behind fellow finalist, Hellebuyck. The Bruins star only allowed two or fewer goals in 27 of 41 games. He also went on a 20 point game streak (14-0-6) at home ice in the beginning of the season. Rask previously won the Vezina Trophy in 2013-14.
“As the years go by, you kind of learn different things about your game, about yourself and what you need to do,” Rask said. It’s just a balance of keeping your mind and body in sync and trying to improve your game every day and every year and before you know it, 10 years go by and you start to look back.”
The Boston Bruins are one of four round-robin teams in the Eastern Conference and will play as the no. 1 seed. They are set to play the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers to determine seeding in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
If there’s one goaltender that should be considered a finalist, it should be Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy and the Lightning started the season on a rough note but bounced back heading into the all-star break. The Lightning goaltender finished the season with a record of 35-14-3. He leads the league in wins for the third straight season. He also recorded a 21-game point streak from Dec. 17 – Feb. 15 (19-0-2). Vasilevskiy also finished with a 2.56 GAA, .917 save percentage and three shutouts while helping the Lightning to win at least 10 games this season twice. The Russian native was last year’s Vezina Trophy winner. He could be the second goaltender to win it twice since Martin Brodeur (2006-07 and 2007-08). He’s also a finalist for the third year in a row.
“I think the guys will agree on this that you can not be a good goalie without a great team,” Vasilevskiy said. “It’s very tough especially in the NHL. There’s too many good players out there trying to score on you.”
The Tampa Bay Lightning are also one of the four round-robin teams in the Western Conference and will play as the no. 2 seed. They will also compete against the Bruins, Capitals and Flyers to determine seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The 2020 NHL Awards was scheduled to happen on June 25 in Las Vegas but was postponed on March 25 due to the ongoing pandemic.