The NHL announced on June 1 that Marc-Andre Fleury, Philipp Grubauer and Andrei Vasilevskiy are the finalists for the 2021 Vezina Trophy. This award is given to the goaltender who is voted best at his position by NHL general managers. The winner will be announced sometime in late June or early July. Since the names of the finalists have been announced, here is a look at the past and present of the three candidates.
Marc-Andre Fleury is a 36-year-old from Sorel, Quebec, Canada. He was drafted first overall in 2003 by the Pittsburgh Penguins, making him just the second goalie to be drafted first overall. Fleury played 691 career games with the Penguins and holds the franchise records for games played, minutes played (39,769), wins (375) and shutouts (44). He also won three Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh. Despite his performance with the Penguins, Pittsburgh management elected to expose Fleury to the expansion draft in 2017. The Vegas Golden Knights ended up choosing Fleury in the draft and he has become a vital member of their roster.
In the 2021 regular season with the Golden Knights, Fleury started 36 games with a record of 26 wins and 10 losses. He recorded 1.98 goals against average and a 0.928% save percentage. Fleury’s efforts helped the team finish in second place in the league standings over the regular season. He and teammate Robin Lehner won with the Jennings Trophy for fewest goals against in the regular season. Fleury has also been nominated for the NHL Fan Choice Save of the Year category.
This year marks Fleury’s first nomination for the Vezina Trophy, but is far from his only outstanding season. He certainly put his skill on display in this year’s regular season and has continued to excel in the Golden Knights playoff run. As the goaltender with the third most wins in NHL history, Fleury makes a strong case for himself in terms of winning the Vezina.
Philipp Grubauer is a 29-year-old from Rosenheim, Germany. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Washington Capitals in 2010. Grubauer began his NHL career in the 2012-2013 season, but spent a lot of time in the AHL. He only started 79 games in six seasons with Washington due to the presence of Braden Holtby, the winner of the 2016 Vezina Trophy, as the starting goaltender. After a successful season and Stanley Cup win in 2018, the Capitals traded Grubauer to the Colorado Avalanche.
On the Avalanche, Grubauer has served primarily as the starting goaltender. In the 2021 regular season, Grubauer started 39 games with a 30-9-1 record, tied for the second most wins in the league. He put up a 1.95 goals against average, second best in the league, and a 0.922% save percentage. He also tied for the most shutouts in the league, with seven in the regular season. Grubauer’s success helped lead Colorado to win the President’s Trophy.
While Grubauer has not been the most prominent or talked about goaltender throughout his career, he has been successful. A Stanley Cup, multiple President’s Trophies and impressive career statistics display his skill. Despite only starting 187 games, he has established himself as a dependable starting goaltender. Being a finalist for the Vezina is justified recognition of his skill and he has a reasonable chance of winning the award.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is a 26-year-old from Tyumen, Russia. He was drafted 19th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2012 and made his debut in 2014. Vasilevskiy has recorded 292 career starts with the Lightning, putting up a record of 190-83-19. His career save percentage is 0.920% and he has a career goals against average of 2.51. Vasilevskiy played the entirety of the Lightning’s 2020 Stanley Cup winning playoff run.
In the 2021 regular season, Vasilevskiy started 42 games. He had a record of 31-10-1, recording the most wins out of any goaltender this season. Vasilevskiy put up a save percentage of 0.925% and a goals against average of 2.21. He also set a franchise record for a shutout streak, recording 228:09 minutes of shutout hockey (almost four games). Vasilevskiy’s efforts helped his team secure a playoff spot and will continue to be important in their attempts to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.
While Fleury and Grubauer are both first-time nominees, Vasilevskiy is no stranger to the Vezina trophy. This is his fourth straight season as a finalist and he won the award in the 2018-2019 season. Vasilevskiy’s consistent skill is impressive and certainly gives him a chance at winning the Vezina once more.