The Vezina Trophy is a three-goalie race among Ben Bishop of the Dallas Stars, Robin Lehner of the New York Islanders and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Who will be honored as the NHL's best goalie during the regular season when the trophy is handed out during the 2019 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone in Las Vegas on June 19? That remains to be seen, but we had five members of the NHL.com staff debate the merits of the finalists to see how the voting by the 31 NHL general managers could shake out.
Brian Compton, deputy managing editor
Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars
Ben Bishop has been in this position twice before as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, but this is the year he will take home the award. He has the best goals-against average (1.98) and most shutouts (seven) among the finalists. Despite battling injuries, he led the NHL with a .934 save percentage in 46 games (45 starts) to help Dallas qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. How did the Stars get there? Primarily because of Bishop, who won 11 of 14 games down the stretch, during which time he had six -- yes, six -- shutouts and put together a streak of 233:04 without allowing a goal, the longest in Stars history. The competition is fierce and worthy of the recognition, but Bishop should be awarded the Vezina for the first time in his career.
Video: DAL@STL, Gm5: Bishop stretches to rob Sundqvist
William Douglas, staff writer
Robin Lehner, New York Islanders
My head says Andrei Vasilevskiy, who had the best record (39-10-4), third-best goals-against average (2.40) and third-best save percentage (.925) among the Vezina finalists and helped Tampa Bay to a record-tying 62-win season. But my heart says Robin Lehner. Why? For what he accomplished on the ice while publicly addressing mental health and substance abuse issues off it. Lehner said he played hockey's most pressure-packed position sober for the first time, and he responded by going 25-13-5 in 46 games with a 2.13 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. His play helped the Islanders finish 48-27-7, second in the Metropolitan Division, and reach the postseason after finishing 35-37-10 last season, 17 points out of a playoff spot.
Video: NYI@WSH: Lehner propels Isles to victory with shutout
Mike G. Morreale, staff writer
Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars
Of all the scintillating numbers established by Bishop this season, the one that really stands out to me is his staggering .938 save percentage at even strength, which led all NHL goalies with at least 15 games played. I also can't ignore the fact the 32-year-old is coming off his highest save percentage (.934), lowest goals-against average (1.98) and most shutouts (seven) in his 11 seasons in the League. Bishop was a big reason the Stars even qualified for the playoffs as the first wild card from the Western Conference, winning eight of his last nine regular-season decisions with four shutouts. He's the 12th goalie since 1981 (when the NHL began voting for the award) to be a Vezina finalist three times, and it's about time he won it!
Jim Cerny, senior editor
Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars
I agree with Bill that Lehner is the sentimental choice because of the personal demons he conquered on the way to his best NHL season, but I can't get past the fact that Thomas Greiss had nearly identical statistics to Lehner (23-14-2, 2.28 GAA, .927 save percentage, five shutouts) while splitting the starts with the Islanders. While each goalie was very good this season, this shows me Lehner and Greiss benefited greatly from the buttoned-down defensive system installed by coach Barry Trotz and a complete buy-in from players embarrassed by their effort defensively the season before, when New York allowed the most goals in the NHL (293). Vasilevskiy did not have such a luxury with the Lightning, facing more shots (32.32 per game as opposed to Bishop and Lehner, who each faced 28.76 shots per game) in more wide-open games. Two numbers stand out with Vasilevskiy: his .910 save percentage -- second-best in the League -- with the opposition on the power play (Bishop was .897, Lehner .888) and his 14-5 record in one-goal games (Bishop was 10-4, Lehner 9-7). At the end of the day, though, Bishop's outstanding play passes the eye test best, and his overall numbers are impossible to overlook. Bishop for the Vezina, and not just because Mike believes it's about time he wins the award!
Shawn P. Roarke, senior director of editorial
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
With all due respect to my colleagues, the Vezina Trophy is not about sentiment or correcting past wrongs. It is about recognizing the best goalie in the regular season. Vasilevskiy won, which is the goal of any goalie. He got 82 of 106 possible points (.773) in his 53 starts, a better points percentage than Lehner (.543) or Bishop (.586). But Vasilevskiy was not carried by his team. He did his part. His save percentage of .925 was sixth among goalies to play in at least 20 games this season, but he faced 390 more shots than either Bishop or Lehner. His .910 save percentage while shorthanded was second in the NHL, behind Alexandar Georgiev of the New York Rangers, who played 20 fewer games. Lehner has the best story and Bishop had the best finish to the season, but Vasilevskiy was the best goalie.
Video: MTL@TBL: Vasilevskiy sets Bolts record with shutout