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InGoal Magazine Vezina Trophy Predictions 2017/18

InGoal Magazine Vezina Trophy Predictions 2017/18

With another NHL season about to get underway, the InGoal Magazine team took a stab at trying to predict who will walk away with the coveted Vezina Trophy in a little over six months time.

Following the annual summer shuffle, which saw a number of goaltenders move teams via trade, free agency and even an expansion draft, this year’s Vezina field may be as wide open as it has been for a number of years, as some of the old guard begin to fade whilst new contenders emerge as part of young, “upstart” teams.

Here’s how we see things shaking out:

Cat Silverman

Winner: Cam Talbot (Edmonton Oilers)

Finalists: Scott Darling (Carolina Hurricanes) and Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens)

I think that this year, our usual “should win, but won’t” suspects – the Cor(e)ys, Crawford and Schneider – are going to struggle behind suboptimal defensive corps.

Jonathan Quick isn’t headed for another Vezina nomination until the Kings address their roster in front of him, and Braden Holtby and Devan Dubnyk may finally see their workload catch up to them.

Price will always get a nomination, though, and I think the defense in front of Scott Darling is going to give him a year to remember. Talbot is behind Connor McDavid and company, though – they’re going to do quite well, and he’s going to reap some of the benefits as a result.

Carey Price once again tops the list in our staff Vezina predictions.

Paul Campbell

Winner: Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens)

Finalists: Scott Darling (Carolina Hurricanes) and Cory Schneider (New Jersey Devils)

Price thrived under Julien at the end of last season. With his skills and a system designed to minimize high danger chances, he’s going to be tough to beat.

Darling is going to get the Canes over the hump. So long as he isn’t forced into a tandem with Ward, his remarkable contribution to Carolina will be impossible to ignore.

Schneider has been quietly excellent for years; last season was an anomaly, and I expect him to bounce back with an improved Devils squad.

David Hutchison

Winner: Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens)

Finalists: Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota Wild)

Ken Brumberger

Winner: Cam Talbot (Edmonton Oilers)

Finalists: Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens)

You need a statistically consistent goalie, who’s a clear, durable #1 on a team where lots of wins won’t be considered too easy; or where the defense will be so good that the statistics will be nuts.

First off, the guys who I think will get some love but ultimately fall short of being Vezina finalists: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Matt Murray and Scott Darling

I think there’s going to be a Washington backslide and a Holtby backlash, so he’s out.

Ben Bishop is going to get some love if Dallas does well – and everyone loves Bishop anyway – but I think he’s past his prime and not going to be durable enough.

However, incumbant Sergei Bobrovsky IS going to stay healthy, IS going to be insane, and Columbus are going to be good. So he’s a finalist.

If Carey Price was a finalist last year, when he had no business being one, there’s likely nothing he can do to not get votes this season.

If he stays healthy, Montreal will make the playoffs, and with that D corps it will be a miracle. Therefore Price is a finalist.

Last finalist is Cam Talbot. Fits the profile of a guy on the rise, gaining respect, consistent performer, going to play a ton of games for a team that wins a lot but doesn’t have the world’s greatest defense. I see him with a breakout year.

As a result, I’m going with Talbot, because I think he’s going to have that breakout season on a breakout team.

Price is going to have a few dreary stretches, and that will be enough to keep him from winning, while ‘Bob’ isn’t winning back to back.

All that in mind, Scott Darling is still my ‘dark horse’ in this conversation – people are absolutely going to love him, and Carolina may well make some noise.

Talbot had a breakout season last year and ties for second place in our staff Vezina predictions poll.

Clare Austin

Winner: Ben Bishop (Dallas Stars)

Finalists: Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens) and Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals)

It’s tough for me to leave Carey Price off the ballot, given his reputation and profile. There’s no reason right now to suspect he’ll have a year much worse than his usual and his usual is very, very good.

If we were doing a top-5, I’d add Lundqvist; but as things stand, I think age is beginning to have an effect on him, so he misses out this year.

I chose Bishop because I think the voters like him and I think it’d be fun to see someone new win it. It’s been Holtby, Price, Bobrovsky and Lundqvist for so long now. And with Hitchcock in Dallas, it’s entirely possible Bishop could have a good enough season. Although, really, I’m just cheering for someone new to talk about.

Equally it could still be Talbot or Dubnyk, or even Murray – although Murray’s got to build his reputation some more – though, frankly, it could be a complete surprise, which would be great fun! It’s that kind of year.

Rob McGregor

Winner: Corey Crawford (Chicago Blackhawks)

Finalists: Frederik Andersen (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens)

Appreciation for Corey Crawford has slowly grown over the years, from a player ‘carried’ by a great team to one who is actually an integral part of a great team.

Except Chicago maybe aren’t such a great team now – they are, however, still likely to be a playoff team and being a playoff team is almost a pre-requisite when it comes to winning the Vezina.

Crawford is likely to play a big role on a marquee team who will have the much loved “plucky former champions battling their way in to the playoffs” narrative in their favour.

Whether you like the idea of someone winning based on narrative or not, Crawford will have to perform if the Blackhawks are to emerge from a good Central Division again and thus any such recognition would be justified.

In a similar vein, Andersen will need to be good if the Maple Leafs are to meet with some lofty expectations this year; but the ice cool Dane has the temperament to manage the market and the skills to provide the kind of consistent goaltending the franchise has been crying out for.

Much like Crawford, there may be a narrative element to it, but don’t be surprised if Andersen gets some love come spring time.

As for Carey Price, what is left to say about the Montreal man? We’ve likely run out of superlatives at this point and another Vezina run would not be a surprise to anyone.

Sergei Bobrovsky rounds out the top three vote-getters in this years staff Vezina predictions poll.

Kevin Woodley

Winner: Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals)

Finalists: Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota Wild) and Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens)

Picking Holtby, who won the Vezina two seasons ago, may seem like taking the easy way out, but there is increased risk behind a team that figures to take a step back after losing so much in the offseason and may require their goalie to bear a heavier burden.

But after watching first hand as Holtby made subtle adjustments to improve the efficiency in his stance, skating and blocker save execution this summer, and getting a glimpse at how well he controls his body and thinks the game, it’s hard not to pick Holtby to win another Vezina, even if the GMs that vote on the award typically show little regard for what could be an increased shot quality against (see their decision to chose Tuukka Rask over Semyon Varlamov in 2014 for evidence).

Dubnyk has been a leading candidate through the All Star break for two-straight seasons, and should continue to benefit from continued strong defensive support and continuously improving offseason work that should hopefully help him avoid the nagging injuries that contributed to previous late-season slides.

Price should probably top all lists, especially after figuring out the skate issue that was a factor in last seasons mid-year slide, but may have an even tougher task than Holtby in terms of a decrease in support in front of him.

Among other possible candidates; since dropping all that ill-advised muscle last offseason, Bobrovsky appears to have solved the injury issues that prevented him from being a perennial Vezina favourite, but still puts more demand on his body than needed with some of his movement patterns, and is called upon to be spectacular so often you wonder if he can hold up again.

Similarly, Semyon Varlamov should be able to return to his Vezina finalist form after double hip surgery that should solve the related nagging groin injuries that slowed him the past two seasons. But between the lack of team support in Colorado and the extra wear and tear from inefficiencies in his own, often-explosive joint-testing movements, durability may keep him from winning the Vezina he deserved in 2014.

Other strong candidates not appearing on many lists:

Craig Anderson (Ottawa Senators) – because the plan is to play him 50 games.

James Reimer and Roberto Luongo (Florida Panthers) – because of each other but a return to health for Luongo after two seasons of hip problems and a predicted breakout for Reimer after seeing strides made this summer will make this the NHL’s best tandem.

Matt Murray (Pittsburgh Penguins) – who could also easily win the Vezina this year and add another trophy to his two Stanley Cup rings!

Greg Balloch

Winner: Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens)

Finalists: Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Cam Talbot (Edmonton Oilers)

It’s hard to bet against the most skilled goaltender in the league, so I have to go with Carey Price.

Sergei Bobrovsky certainly deserves all of the credit in the world for the two Vezina trophies that he has won, but Price is still the king – and I think he’s poised to have another monster year.

Cam Talbot is the wildcard. If Edmonton has the year that everyone is predicting they will have, Talbot will go along for the ride and have some great-looking numbers. The 30 NHL GMs vote for the award, and we all know how much they value wins as a stat.

It’s a terrible way to judge a goalie, but will certainly impact how the GMs will vote.

Results

So who’s going to win? Using a reverse three point system (3 points for a first place vote, 1 for a 3rd place vote) the finalists in our staff poll are:

  1. Carey Price (15 points)
  2. Cam Talbot (7 points)
  3. Sergei Bobrovsky (6 points)

 

About The Author

Rob McGregor

A member of In Goal Magazine's editorial team, Rob is also the editor of the One Puck Short blog and host of the One Puck Short podcast . A former goaltender in Great Britain's third tier National League (NIHL), Rob also writes for Today's Slapshot and has previously written for a number of other outlets, including the BBC.

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