Predators Pekka Rinne deserving of first Vezina Trophy
At the end of the 2017-18 NHL season, all of the four major stats used to traditionally determine GM voting for the Vezina Trophy – raw save percentage, shutouts, wins, and goals-against average – all put Pekka Rinne at the top of the league’s list of elites.
So although statistics put Sergei Bobrovsky at the front of the pack in terms of exceeded expectations and difficult seasons, Rinne managed to snag the overall win for the first time in his career.
The 35-year-old Nashville Predators starter appeared in 59 regular season games, starting all of them and posting 42 wins in the process.
He tied for the league lead in shutouts, denying all shots faced in eight of his regular season contests, and posted a league best 27.49 Goals Saved Above Average to pull significantly ahead of the rest of the pack in regards to surface stats posted in relation to shots faced.
Rinne, drafted 258th overall in the eighth round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Predators, has been a finalist in Vezina voting on three different occasions prior to this season, ending his year as runner-up for the award in both 2011 and 2015 and finishing third in 2012.
This season, though, he finally managed to get the respect that it could be argued his 567-game regular season career has deserved thus far. He already had it from his NHL peers:
Congrats to Pekka Rinne, who has long been one of my biggest idols in hockey, on and off the ice. Very well deserved!!
— Matt Murray (@mattmurray_30) June 21, 2018
With this award now under his belt, the Finnish national joins both Tuukka Rask and Miikka Kiprusoff on the slowly growing list of goaltenders out of his home country to take home the league’s most prestigious award at the position.
The final voting breakdown for the award gave Rinne the top spot handily, as the veteran pulled ahead of the pack with 22 first place votes, six second place nods, and one third-place nomination for 129 total points. Rinne was also named to the First All Star Team and his playing partner, Juuse Saros, was the goaltender named to the NHL All Rookie Team after going 11-5-7 with a .925 save percentage, adding to a special night for the two Finnish goalies and Predators goaltending coach Ben Vanderklok.
Connor Hellebuyck finished second in Vezina voting, but with seven first-place votes for the Winnipeg Jets starter (and 82 total points), it was clear that there likely wasn’t even a race to begin with.
The remainder of the Vezina voting results were as follows:
Roberto Luongo getting a vote after playing 35 games ranks among the surprises, as does Bobrovsky and John Gibson finishing so far down after ranking first and second in our deeper statistical look, and maybe even Hellebuyck getting so many first-place votes despite being 13th in the NHL in adjusted save percentage, according to the proprietary data from Clear Sight Analytics.
So what surprised you? Let us know in the comments section below.