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Holtby, Price Top Vezina Predictions By InGoal Staff

Holtby, Price Top Vezina Predictions By InGoal Staff
Can Carey Price carve his name into the Vezina Trophy for a second-straight season?

Can Carey Price carve his name into the Vezina Trophy for a second-straight season?

With the NHL season upon us, the InGoal Magazine team decided it was time to gaze into our collective crystal balls and pick a Vezina Trophy winner for the upcoming season.

The obvious choice was reigning Vezina and Hart Trophy winner Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens, who is coming off a season that saw him lead the NHL in save percentage (.933), goals-against average (1.96) and wins (44). Price was also at of near the top in even-strength save percentage (.943) and adjusted save percentage (.939), which weighs the quality of shots based on distance from the net, trailing only Steve Mason of the Philadelphia Flyers among starters in both categories, according to the War on Ice advanced statistics website.

The fact those are all career highs has some wondering if Price is due for a correction, while others see it was as a steady progression for the 28-year-old, who is entering his third season under the daily tutelage of two-time Stanley Cup winning goaltending coach Stephane Waite, and could be the first since Martin Brodeur in 2007 and 2008 to win consecutive Vezina Trophies.

Either way, Price is widely considered a favourite among betting sites at +350. So what did the InGoal staff think?

Price was atop two ballots, but two other InGoal voters picked Washington Capitals No.1 Braden Holtby, who narrowly finished fourth last season and has seen his odds narrow to +700, the sixth best bet after originally projecting as a longer shot. One writer picked Colorado Avalanche starter Semyon Varlamov, who probably should have won the award two years ago but isn’t even listed on the odds to start the season, and one picked Devan Dubnyk, who is considered a big long shot at +1400, the same odds as Sergei Bobrovsky, to start the season.

Let’s take a closer look:

Clare Austin

1. Braden Holtby
2. Carey Price
3. Cory Schneider
4. Devan Dubnyk

“I think Holtby wins this year. This could be the year that he proves once and for all how good a goalie he is. Price, Lundqvist, and Rask have already won, so they’d need to dominate to win again. Schneider gets overlooked so often; unless New Jersey goes on a tear, he will again. Dubnyk is my dark horse. I’m very intrigued to see how he fares this year. Are his technical adjustments enough to keep him at the top of the league or will he drop closer to league average? There’s always a surprise candidate. I’m not going to guess on that. It’ll be a surprise. That’s the point.”

Paul Campbell

1. Braden Holtby
2. Carey Price
3. Henrik Lundqvist
4. Pekka Rinne
5. Tuukka Rask

“If I were guessing who the best goalie in the league would be, I’d have Cory Schneider in the top spot. However, since I’m predicting who will actually be chosen by the general managers, I haven’t included any non-playoff-likely goaltenders. Braden Holtby is poised to ascend. He’s performed consistently well throughout his career, and proved last season that he can handle the massive number of starts he’ll see in Washington. Last spring’s playoff performance showed what Holtby is capable of. Mitch Korn’s continued influence is going to help Holtby display that kind of brilliance more often. Behind a solid Caps team, he’s going to be impossible for GMs to ignore.

Carey Price comes second: he’s brilliant, but cannot sustain the kind of numbers he posted last year. Lundqvist is so consistently excellent he could win the Vezina any given season. Rinne is coming off a strong season, is not (yet) showing much sign of age deterioration, and plays behind a very strong Nashville D. Tuukka Rask is one of the top three goaltenders in the world right now, but only gets the fifth spot because the Bruins are a cusp playoff team: making the playoffs is generally (unofficially) required to win the award, and non-playoff teams are usually bad enough to puncture a goalie’s numbers.”

Greg Balloch

1. Semyon Varlamov
2. Carey Price
3. Cory Schneider
4. Braden Holtby

“While the most popular choice for Vezina Trophy will be Carey Price repeating, I’ll have to make a dark horse selection of Semyon Varlamov. He’s still only 27, and has been building on a pair of great seasons in Colorado. He’ll be heavily relied on, and like we saw with Price last year, that can sometimes be a recipe for success.”

David Hutchison

1. Carey Price.
2. Fredrik Andersen
3. Pekka Rinne

“Carey Price is the reigning winner; the win last year wasn’t close. Until someone steps up to dethrone him how can you choose anyone else? But can he keep carrying the Habs on his back? It’s a tall order. With so many pundits choosing Anaheim this year, it’s reasonable to predict that the talented Andersen, who pays so much attention to his preparation and development, is in for a big season, but with GMs so prone to rewarding experience it will be tough for Andersen to get the votes even if he does put together a great season. Which brings us to Pekka Rinne: Could this finally be his year?”

Rob McGregor

1. Carey Price: Whilst a repeat of last year’s stellar campaign is unlikely, Price has established himself as the NHL’s No.1 goaltender over the past two years and looks set to become the first netminder since Martin Brodeur in 2007 and 2008 to win back-to-back Vezina Trophies.

2. Pekka Rinne: Runner up in 2015 and 2011 (and third in 2012), the Vezina Trophy keeps alluding the giant Nashville Predators netminder, who has become one of the league’s premier puck stoppers when healthy.

3. Corey Crawford: The 30-year old Blackhawks netminder probably should have won the Conn Smythe in 2013, and has become a key member of a perennial contender. Teams don’t become “powerhouses” without good goaltending, and it’s about time Crawford got a little recognition for his efforts in the Chicago goal.

4. Tuukka Rask: The 2014 winner remains one of the games finest netminders, but worthy candidates can often see their case tainted by poor team performance. Rask didn’t receive a single vote last season, as the Bruins slipped out of the top eight. Sadly the same is likely to apply this year, regardless of how well Rask plays.

5. Cory Schneider: Like Rask, playing on a poor team is likely to distract from the quality of play between the pipes. Schneider played a franchise record 28 straight games, and posted excellent numbers on a terrible Devils team; deserving more credit than he got at the end of it.

Kevin Woodley

1. Devan Dubnyk
2. Carey Price
3. Sergei Bobrovsky
4. Braden Holtby

“Price is the obvious pick, but with so many NHL observers calling for Dubnyk to step back statistically, I’m going to go the other way. It’s understandable for some to see last season as a statistical blip for a goalie that was in the American Hockey League two seasons ago, but after getting an up-close, on-the-ice look this summer at the changes Dubnyk made in both the way he trains off the ice and the way he tracks the puck on the ice, it’s hard not to see it as part of an evolution for the big goalie. Add in playing behind one of the League’s best defences, and Dubnyk is excellent betting value for the Vezina Trophy, especially given the NHL General Managers who vote on the award has long seemed loathe to consider shot quality metrics (see Rask over Varlamov two years ago) and rely on raw save percentage.

“Similarly, Holtby is a great pick after adjusting to being less busy behind a Barry Trotz-coached team and with another year of tightening up his athletic style with goalie guru Mitch Korn, but don’t sleep on Bobrovsky, who altered his offseason approach in an effort to make it through a season healthy and appears poised to make a run at a second Vezina Trophy.”

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