2017 Vezina Nominees – Who Should Win?

And the nominees for the 2017 James Norris Memorial Trophy are……. Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals, Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.

(I did a write up on Awards Predictions a little over a week ago, which included more in-depth discussion on the Vezina Trophy. You can read it here)

The Vezina Trophy is awarded to the goaltender who is “adjudged to be the best at this position.” All three of Holtby, Bobrovsky, and Price have been nominated once, winning once each as well. Holtby won last season (2015/2016), Price won 2 years ago (2014/2015), and Bobrovsky won 4 years ago (2012/2013).

Braden Holtby won 42 games, had a 2.07 GAA, and a 0.925 save percentage. He was tied for 1st among goaltenders in wins, was 2nd in goaltenders with at least 50 games for save percentage and goal against average. He helped the Capitals to their second straight Presidents’ Trophy. He also had 9 shutouts, tops among goalies. Even on a stacked Capitals team, Holtby managed to stand out with his great play. He even outplayed his previous Vezina Trophy winning season, where he had a 2.20 GAA and a 0.922 save percentage. Overall, it was a very strong season for Holtby.

Sergei Bobrovsky won 41 games, had a 2.06 GAA, and a 0.931 save percentage. Lead all goaltenders in save percentage and goals against average with at least 50 games, was tied for third in shutouts with 7, and was 3rd in wins with 41. He was also one of the busiest goalies of the season, playing 63 games, which ranked 6th in the league. He was easily one of the best goalies in the league, with a save percentage 0.006 higher than the next best goalie with at least 50 starts.

Carey Price won 37 games, had a 2.23 GAA, and a 0.923 save percentage. Often in the conversation of the best goalies in the world, Price rebounded with another strong season after missing all but 12 games last season with an injury. A rough December and January had many worried that his injury was still nagging him, as he posted monthly save percentages of 0.899 and 0.906, respectively. However he turned it around afterwards, especially in March, where he posted a 0.941 save percentage, and played himself back in to the Vezina conversation. He ended up tied for 4th in the league for save percentage among goalies with at least 50 games played (0.923), was tied for 5th in goals against average, again among goalies with at least 50 games played (2.23), and was tied for 5th in wins with 37.

And the winner is……

Sergei Bobrovsky. Sergei Bobrovsky was far and away the best goalie this season. He lead in save percentage, was 3rd in wins, and carried the Blue Jackets back to the playoffs. He was consistently good throughout the season, never having an extended bad stretch. The Blue Jackets record-tying 16 game win streak was largely due to Bobrovsky’s great play. Although wins seems to weigh heavily in Vezina voting, Bobrovsky’s play set him so far above the rest of the competition, it’s essentially a lock for him to win his second Vezina Trophy.

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