Welcome to Last Word on Hockey’s 2022 award predictions series. As the regular season wraps up and the playoffs being, we’ll be taking a look at potential nominees and winners for the major NHL awards. The 2022 NHL Awards will be a one-hour show between Games 3 and 4 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, hosted by the same city that will host those games. Tonight, we will cover the Vezina Trophy predictions for 2022.
2022 Vezina Trophy Predictions
The Vezina Trophy is awarded annually by the NHL general managers to the goaltender “adjudged to be the best at [the] position”. The Trophy was first presented in the 1926-27 season, and since then has been awarded to a wide range of goaltenders. No one, however, has received this honour more than Montreal Canadiens legend Jacques Plante, who received this honour seven times. Last year, this award went to Marc-Andre Fleury, giving him his first Vezina win in his illustrious 18-year career.
Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers
Season Stats – GP (53; 14th in NHL) | GAA (2.07; 1st) | SV% (.935; 1st) | SO (6; 3rd)
Igor Shesterkin‘s name has been in the Hart Trophy conversation this year, so it makes sense for him to be a Vezina finalist as well. The 26-year-old Russian has provided security and confidence to the Rangers’ crease, and was significant in them qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite not playing in tons of games, Shesterkin led the league in the most significant goaltending statistical categories. Despite Shesterkin’s lacklustre close to the season, he has done more to enhance his team’s playoff chances than any of the other candidates.
Jacob Markstrom, Calgary Flames
Season Stats – GP (63; 4th) | GAA (2.22; 3rd) | SV% (.922; 4th) | SO (9; 1st)
When the Flames signed Jacob Markstrom to a big-money deal in 2020, skepticism that Markstrom was still in his prime ran rampant. Now, however, nobody is questioning the 32-year-old Swede. It is hard to point out a weakness on this Flames team, but one thing’s for sure: it’s not their goaltending. Markstrom played a lot of games this year and was able to consistently provide security to Calgary and their high-powered offence.
Frederick Andersen, Carolina Hurricanes
Season Stats – GP (52; 15th) | GAA (2.17; 2nd) | SV% (.922: 3rd) | SO (4; 7th)
How are Leafs fans feeling about this? The former starter in Toronto signed in Carolina this past offseason and has had a season for the ages. Despite injury concerns down the stretch, Frederick Andersen has provided this young Hurricanes team with consistency in goal; something they have not had in recent years. Although Andersen has benefitted from playing behind one of the best defences in the NHL, it shouldn’t take away from his consistently spectacular play.
Winner: Igor Shesterkin
Was there any other choice? Shesterkin has carried this Rangers team on his back for most of the regular season and has the stats to back it up. He leads the league in the two major goaltending statistical categories: goals-against average and save percentage. While that’s impressive enough, he has done it all behind a relatively modest offence. The Rangers averaged 3.05 goals per game this season; less than both Carolina (3.38) and Calgary (3.55) by a sizable margin.
Igor Shesterkin’s .935 save percentage in 2021-22 was the third highest in NHL history among goaltenders with a minimum of 50 appearances.
Tim Thomas (2010-11) – .938
Dominik Hasek (1998-99) – .937
Igor Shesterkin (2021-22) – .935 pic.twitter.com/R8nXVa3CJJ
— NYR Stats & Info (@NYRStatsInfo) April 30, 2022
An honourable mention should be given to Ilya Sorokin and Juuse Saros. At 26 and 27-years-old, respectively, both goalies had breakout seasons this year, and will no doubt be Vezina Trophy candidates of their own in the coming years. Sorokin was the victim of a surprisingly lacklustre New York Islanders team and still put up career highs in all statistical categories. Meanwhile, Saros had a phenomenal year that fell just short of our three nominees.