Betting on the 2021 Vezina Tophy – Is Vasilevskiy Going to Win the Best NHL Goalie Award?

| May 31, 2021 10:48 am PDT

“The annual award given to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position.” That is the official definition of the Vezina Trophy.

The question is how to determine who is the best? Well, that’s the job of a panel consisting of general managers of the 31 NHL teams. They get to cast their votes at the end of the regular season.

Three highest-ranked goalies are designated as finalists, with the winner being announced at the NHL Awards ceremony after the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The 2021 regular season is over, which means that the top three goaltenders are already selected. However, their names are kept secret until the conclusion of the playoffs.

What this means is that, apart from NHL officials, no one knows who the top three candidates for the 2021 Vezina Trophy are.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we can’t speculate, which is exactly what I’m going to do now!

Evaluating the Best Goaltender in the NHL

Voting for the Vezina Trophy is not an exact science – the voters are free to pick any goaltender from any of the 31 NHL teams.

Still, it’s safe to say that they don’t vote randomly. Instead, the general managers make their choices based on several criteria.

The first criterium is the goalie’s stats in the regular season. The data that’s taken into account includes GAA, save percentage, and the number of shutouts.

In the regular season, the top GAA, SV%, and SO leaders were the following goalies.

Rank GAA Save Percentage Shutouts
1 Alex Nedeljkovic (1.90) Alex Nedeljkovic (.932) Semyon Varlamov (7)
2 Philipp Grubauer (1.95) Semyon Varlamov (.929) Philipp Grubauer (7)
3 Marc-Andre Fleury (1.98) Marc-Andre Fleury (.928) Marc-Andre Fleury (6)
4 Semyon Varlamov (2.04) Chris Driedger (0.927) Andrei Vasilevskiy (5)
5 Chris Driedger (2.07) Juuse Saros (.927) Connor Hellebuyck (4)
6 Jack Campbell (2.15) Andrei Vasilevskiy (.925) Mike Smith (3)
7 Ilya Sorokin (2.17) Mike Smith (.923) Ilya Sorokin (3)
8 Andrei Vasilevskiy (2.21) Philipp Grubauer (.922) John Gibson (3)
9 Tuukka Rask (2.28) Jack Campbell (.921) Anton Khudobin (3)
10 Juuse Saros (2.28) Ilya Sorokin (.918) Juuse Saros (3)

If you’re not familiar with these terms, I’m here to help! GAA stands for Goals Against Average, which is basically the average number of goals the goaltender concedes per game. The lower the number, the better.

The next stat is the save percentage, which is calculated by dividing the number of saves the goalie made by the number of shots on goal. The higher the number, the better!

Finally, the Vezina Trophy voters also take into consideration the number of shutouts, that is, the number of games in which the goalie didn’t concede a goal.

Even though these stats can tell you a lot about NHL’s goaltenders, they are not always crucial in determining the winner of the Vezina Trophy.

One of the reasons for this lies in the fact that some goalies played fewer games than others.

If a player performs extremely well in one game, then goes without making another appearance before the end of the season, he is going to rank high in all those aspects. Still, that wouldn’t make anyone vote for him.

This is why the voters also take into account how valuable the goaltender is for his team. If he was crucial in getting his team to the Playoffs, he’s likely to get a vote.

Knowing all this, it’s not hard to imagine that the three goalies the jury picked are Andrei Vasilevskiy, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Philipp Grubauer.

Why Andrei Vasilevskiy is the 2021 Betting Favorite

There are ten active NHL goaltenders who have already won the Vezina Trophy. Only one of those guys won it two times. It’s Sergei Bobrovsky, who now plays for the Florida Panthers, but who didn’t do too great in the regular season.

His fellow Russian, Andrei Vasilevskiy, seems like someone who could get to two Vezina Trophies as well. In fact, he’s the #1 favorite to do so.

Vezina Trophy Winners in the Past 10 Years
Year Player Team
2020 Connor Hellebuyck Winnipeg Jets
2019 Andrei Vasilevskiy Tampa Bay Lightning
2018 Pekka Rinne Nashville Predators
2017 Sergei Bobrovsky Columbus Blue Jackets
2016 Braden Holtby Washington Capitals
2015 Carey Price Montreal Canadiens
2014 Tuukka Rask Boston Bruins
2013 Sergei Bobrovsky Columbus Blue Jackets
2012 Henrik Lundqvist New York Rangers
2011 Tim Thomas Boston Bruins

Vasilevskiy was brilliant in the regular season, with impressive states – he ranked among the top 10 in all GAA, SV%, and shutouts. What’s even more impressive is that he played in 42 of the 56 regular-season games his team (Tampa Bay Lightning) played this year.

Only two goaltenders (Connor Hellebuyck and Jacob Markstrom) in the entire NHL featured in more games.

Knowing all this, it’s reasonable to assume that Vasilevskiy’s made his way into the top 3 finalists.

Is This Fleury’s Best Shot at the Vezina Trophy?

Saying that Marc-Andre Fleury is an NHL legend would be an understatement. This guy’s been playing top-level hockey for 16 years!

However, he’s never won the Vezina Trophy. The good news for the 36-year-old is that he’s one of the main favorites for the award.

He was nothing short of brilliant in the regular season (as you can see for yourself in the table above), and has kept on playing well in the postseason. In fact, Fleury is one of the men who made the Vegas Golden Knights one of the top favorites for the 2021 Stanley Cup.

Philipp Grubauer Has the Stanley Cup on His Mind

The Golden Knights are among the top favorites for the Stanley Cup this year, but they’re not the #1 favorite. That spot is reserved for the Colorado Avalanche.

The man between the Avs pipes is Philipp Grubauer, who is almost certainly one of the Vezina Trophy finalists.

His contribution was crucial to helping the Avalanche finish in the #1 place in the West Division. Grubauer also played a major role in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in which the Avs cruised past the Blues, winning the series 4-0.

Saros, Nedeljkovic, and All the Rest

Nashville Predators center Luke Kunin had one thing to say about the goalie.

“He’s been our best player all year.”

Juuse Saros posted some impressive stats in the regular season, then continued playing brilliantly in the postseason.

He was their best player in most of the Predators vs. Hurricane matchups in the first round of the Playoffs. Nevertheless, his team struggled against the ‘Canes, the reason for which lies in the fact that they too have a fantastic goalie.

The man in question is Alex Nedeljkovic, who’s probably been the best goaltender in the postseason. The trouble is that he might not be among the three Vezina Trophy finalists, as he didn’t play too much in the regular season.

Nedeljkovic featured in only 23 regular-season games for the Hurricanes. Still, he did manage to put himself at the top of the leaders least in GAA and SV%.

Predicting the Winner of the 2021 Vezina Trophy

Who’s going to be crowned the best NHL goaltender this year? It’s got to be Andrei Vasilevskiy!

The guy’s been constantly brilliant ever since he came to America in 2014. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2019, which slipped from his hands in the Stanley Cup-winning season the following year.

This time, however, whether the Lightning win the title or not, their goalie is very likely to walk away with the Vezina Trophy.

I think this, and the hockey betting sites seem to agree with me. The last time the Vezina Trophy odds were available (a few weeks ago), Vasilevskiy was the #1 favorite at -170.

Zarko Naric
Zarko Naric

Zarko Naric – the World's Greatest Sportswriter, according to his grandma.

Zarko started writing for in 2019, covering sports like soccer, tennis, and basketball,  as well as some more niche sports like cycling, for example.

In addition to writing news, picks, and blog pieces focused on sports, Zarko’s also been covering politics, TV/music contests, and so on.

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