The NHL announced the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy on Tuesday, awarded “to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position.”
After struggling through his first season as a No. 1 NHL goalie in 2016-17, Hellebuyck has been one of the best stories at the goaltending position this season. The 24-year-old took the job back from off-season signing Steve Mason in early October and never looked back, finishing with a .924 save percentage (fifth), 2.36 GAA (fourth), six shutouts (third) and a league-high 44 wins. He didn’t have an easy workload either, facing a total of 2,048 shots this season, third-most among all goalies. Hellebuyck is the first Vezina finalist in Thrashers/Jets history.
Rinne is a Vezina finalist for the fourth time in his career, but he’s never won the award. The 35-year-old tied for the league lead and set a new franchise record in shutouts with eight, had a 2.31 GAA (third), .927 save percentage (tied for second) and earned 42 wins (third). Rinne was the most consistent netminder from the start of the season to the end of it, as he never had a monthly save percentage that dropped below .915. Rinne became the seventh goalie in league history to hit the 40-win mark three times.
Vasilevskiy is another first-time Vezina finalist as he assumed full-time No. 1 duties in Tampa Bay this season. The 23-year-old was tied for the league lead in both wins (44) and shutouts (8), which were both franchise records. Vasilevskiy’s 2.62 GAA was 12th-best in the league and he faced the second-most shots of any goalie with 2,075. The Tyumen, Russia native became the 12th different goaltender in NHL history to finish a season with at least a share of the league lead in wins before turning 24, and first to do it since Carey Price in 2010-11. No Lightning netminder has ever won the Vezina Trophy.
The Vezina Trophy is voted on by the NHL’s general managers.
All award winners will be announced on June 20 at the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas.