Connor Hellebuyck WPG trophy tracker Vezina

To mark the final week of the 2023-24 regular season, is running its final installment of the Trophy Tracker series. Today, we look at the race for the Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the goalie voted to be the best in the League by NHL general managers.

Dylan DeMelo doesn't get a vote for a Vezina Trophy, and the Winnipeg Jets defenseman certainly is biased, but he has no doubt Connor Hellebuyck is the best goalie in the NHL this season.

"Without him we don't win the game," DeMelo said after Hellebuyck made a season-high 45 saves in a 4-3 overtime win against the Nashville Predators on April 9. "That's why he's the best goalie in the League and we're lucky to have him. ... He's got my Vezina vote, that's for sure."

Hellebuyck also has the majority of the vote from a panel of 15 writers, who again voted him the winner of the Vezina Trophy. He received 12 first-place votes and a total of 72 points. Sergei Bobrovsky of the Florida Panthers was second with 52 points (two first-place votes), and Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks was third with 43 points (one first-place vote).

Hellebuyck also was the choice of voters at the halfway point of the season and at the three-quarter mark.

The 30-year-old is 37-19-4 with a 2.39 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and five shutouts in 60 games. Among goalies to play at least 20 games, he's sixth in GAA and tied for third in save percentage. His .933 even-strength save percentage is third in the NHL while facing 1,483 shots, which is more than the goalies ahead of him have faced combined. Hellebuyck's backup, Laurent Brossoit, has a .941 even-strength save percentage against 505 shots in 22 games, and Panthers goalie Anthony Stolarz also has a .941 even-strength save percentage against 557 shots in 27 games.

Hellebuyck has allowed two goals or fewer 35 times in his 60 starts, including 20 of 21 games between Nov. 17 and Jan. 20, and in 65.0 percent of his starts (39 of 60) he's had a save percentage of at least .900, fourth among goalies to play at least 20 games. He also had faced 492 high-danger shots entering Tuesday, second-most in the League, according to NHL EDGE stats, with an .831 save percentage that ranked seventh.

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And he's had to be sharp since the Jets are averaging 3.08 goals per game when he's playing, compared to 3.21 per game for Brossoit.

"We know what we’re going to get from Connor every night," Jets coach Rick Bowness said. "He's so good. He's an elite goaltender, without a doubt."

Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey believes his goalie's importance goes further than the Vezina.

"[Hellebuyck] is having a Hart Trophy type of season," Morrissey said.

The last goalie to win the Hart Trophy as NHL most valuable player was Carey Price in 2015. With Hellebuyck's leading role in the Jets' return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, an MVP vote would be warranted.

"It gives us a ton of confidence," Winnipeg defenseman Neal Pionk said of Hellebuyck after a 7-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche on April 13. "It lets us play freely, make some plays, and like I said, when we play these good teams, they’re going to make some plays no matter what we do. We could play a perfect game and still give up a few scoring chances, and that's where the goalie helps us out."

Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Connor Hellebuyck, Jets, 72 points (12 first-place votes); Sergei Bobrovsky, Panthers, 52 (two first-place votes); Thatcher Demko, Canucks, 43 (one first-place vote); Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins, 13; Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers, 10; Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators, 9; Joey Daccord, Seattle Kraken, 6; Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Buffalo Sabres; 4; Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues, 4; Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars, 3; Stuart Skinner, Edmonton Oilers, 3; Cam Talbot, Los Angeles Kings, 3; Alexandar Georgiev, Colorado Avalanche, 2; Connor Ingram, Arizona Coyotes, 1 independent correspondent Darrin Bauming contributed to this report

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