On Friday, the National Hockey League announced that Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck would join Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy as the three 2019-20 season Vezina Trophy finalists.
Awarded annually to the top goaltender from the past season, the Vezina Award has never been claimed by Hellebuyck, who finished second in 2017-18 to fellow finalist Vasilevskiy. This season, however, Hellebuyck has a real shot at taking home the game’s top award in the goaltending realm.
Finishing with the league’s most shutouts (six), shots against (1,796) and saves made (1,656) the 27-year-old Commerce, MI. product helped Winnipeg into the playoff picture with stellar work in the blue paint, despite an oft-injured defensive crew before him. His 31 wins, 56 starts and 3,268:33 minutes played ranks him second across the league.
Hellebuyck went 31-21-5 and posted a .922 save percentage to go along with a 2.57 goals against average on the year. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound backstop matched a career-high with six shutouts (one he set in 2017-18 while starting 64 games). Hellebuyck had two four-game winnings streaks this past season, while losing three games in a row just once. He was pulled for poor performance in games he start two times, while also coming in in relief twice.
He will go up against Rask and Vasilevskiy who have each previously won the prestigious honour. Rask took the Vezina following the 2013-14 season, while Vasilevskiy is the current trophy holder. Vasilevskiy led the league with 35 wins and saw his name as a finalist for the third-straight season, while Rask finished first in goals against average and second in save percentage, despite a lighter workload.
With the annual NHL Awards having been cancelled, all winners will be announced at some point during the NHL’s Conference Finals. Exact dates, times and other information has yet to be determined.