You know the deal. The 30 NHL General Managers rank their top-three candidates to be the best goalie of the year and the winner gets the prestigious Vezina Trophy. Only five active goalies have won the prize, and no one has won it twice.
For years, the likes of Dominik Hasek and Martin Brodeur had a near monopoly on the award. Now that Marty has retired, only five active goalies can claim to be Vezina-winners, and none of them have taken the honor twice. Will next year see our first repeat winner since Tim Thomas (2008-09 and 2010-11) or will another new face be the visage of the Vezina?
Let’s set the early odds to win the 2016-17 Vezina Award.
Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens): 8/1
Price ranked first in wins, goals against average, and save-percentage in 2014-15 and won the Vezina Award in a unanimous vote. He missed almost all of last season with a knee injury but, before going down, was already 10-2 with a .934 save-percentage.
Every indication is that he’ll be fully healed for the start of next year. (He probably would have been ready to play if the 2015-16 season lasted two weeks longer.) He’s the best goalie in the world when he’s healthy …
Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals): 8/1
… unless you ask Alex Ovechkin, who described his teammate Braden Holtby as “the best goalie in the world.” While I see that honor going to Price, Holtby is certainly a worthy challenger. He’s poised to take home the Vezina this year thanks to a ludicrous 48-9-5 record and .922 save-percentage. The Caps took home the President’s Trophy and should continue to be a dominant regular-season team next year, ensuring Holtby posts a bunch more wins. At 26 years of age, he’s just entering his prime.
Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay Lightning): 9/1
The Lightning showed in the 2016 playoffs that they can win without Steven Stamkos, who’s a free agent this offseason. Ben Bishop is a big part of that. He posted a 2.06 goals-against average and 9.26 save-percentage last year, both tops in the NHL. If he keeps the Lightning near the top of the league without Stamkos, voters will reward him handsomely.
Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins): 12/1
Tuukka Rask is coming off arguably the worst season of his career. His 2.56 goals-against and .915 save-percentage don’t pop as terrible, but they’re not what the Bruins have come to expect from their Finnish tender, especially after he won the Vezina in 2013-14 with a 2.04 GAA and .930 save-percentage.
Pekka Rinne (Nashville Predators): 12/1
Just like Rask, Pekka Rinne needs a bounce back year. His .908 save-percentage last year was his second-lowest ever, only outdone by an injury-plagued 2013-14. He picked it up a bit in the playoffs, leading the Preds to their first-ever series win over top-seeded Anaheim, and has one of the best D-corps in the league in front of him. But, at age 33, he’s entering the downslope of his career.
Brian Elliott (St. Louis Blues): 15/1
Cory Schneider (New Jersey Devils): 15/1
Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings): 15/1
Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins): 18/1
Roberto Luongo (Florida Panthers): 18/1
Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers): 18/1
Corey Crawford (Chicago Blackhawks): 20/1
(Photo Credit: By Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)