Hellebuyck of Jets wins Vezina Trophy as best goalie in NHL
Led League in shutouts, second in victories to help Winnipeg advance to Cup Qualifiersby David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer
Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets won the Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the NHL on Monday.
Hellebuyck, who was the runner-up for the Vezina in 2017-18, is the first goalie in Jets/Atlanta Thrashers history to win the award.
"It's very rewarding and almost a little bit of a sigh of relief because I was so close last time and I wanted it so badly," Hellebuyck said. "This year was just such a mental grind but was also so fun. I would have liked for the [postseason] to go a little bit better, but you know, when I'm looking back on this year, I'll say we did some great things."
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Hellebuyck was second in the NHL in wins (31), first in shutouts (six) and seventh in save percentage (.922) among goalies who played at least 20 games. He was 31-21-5 with a 2.57 goals-against average and allowed two or fewer goals in 32 of his 58 games to help the Jets (37-28-6, .563 points percentage) advance to the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, when they lost a best-of-5 series to the Calgary Flames in four games.
Hellebuyck led NHL goalies in shots faced (1,796) and saves (1,656), and was tied for first in games with Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.
After going 44-11-9 with a 2.36 GAA and .924 save percentage in 2017-18, Hellebuyck was 34-23-3 with a 2.90 GAA and .913 save percentage last season. Before this season, he said he not only intended to bounce back, but to win the Vezina.
"Almost feels like getting a little bit of a monkey off my back after saying that, but now I really am looking forward to the next one. The next one's going to be very glorious, and that's winning a Cup," he said. "It's not going to be easy and it's going to be not just me. There's going be a whole team in front of me that are all going to have to buy in, kind of like we did this year, just battle and grind. I think we have the locker room for it, and it's only going to get better."
Hellebuyck faced at least 37 shots in 13 regular-season games and was 10-1-2 with a 2.08 GAA and .949 save percentage in those games. He made an NHL career-high 51 saves in a 3-2 win at the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 1, when he set the Jets/Thrashers record for saves in a period with 27 in the second.
Hellebuyck finished with 123 points, including 19 first-place votes, in voting for the award by NHL general managers before the postseason began.
Video: Vezina Trophy winner: Connor Hellebuyck
Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning were the other finalists. Rask was second with 99 points (10 first-place votes), and Vasilevskiy had 31 points (one first-place vote).
Rask was 26-8-6 and first in GAA (2.12) and second in save percentage (.929) among NHL goalies with at least 20 games, and he was tied for second with five shutouts with Elvis Merzlikins of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights. Rask helped the Bruins win the Presidents' Trophy for having the best record in the NHL (44-14-12, .714) and shared the William M. Jennings Trophy with backup Jaroslav Halak for Boston allowing the fewest goals in the NHL (167).
Vasilevskiy, who won the award last season, led the NHL in wins for the third straight season (35-14-3) and had a 2.56 GAA, a .917 save percentage and three shutouts. He had a 21-game point streak (19-0-2) from Dec. 17-Feb. 15 and helped Tampa Bay win at least 10 straight games twice this season.
The 2020 NHL Awards had been scheduled for June 18 in Las Vegas but were postponed March 25 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
2020 Vezina Trophy voting (1st-2nd-3rd)
1. Connor Hellebuyck, WPG 123 (19-9-1)
2. Tuukka Rask, BOS 99 (10-15-4)
3. Andrei Vasilevskiy, TBL 31 (1-3-17)
4. Jacob Markstrom, VAN 7 (0-1-4)
5. Elvis Merzlikins, CBJ 4 (0-1-1)
6. Robin Lehner, VGK/CHI 3 (0-1-0)
7. Jordan Binnington, STL 1 (0-0-1)
7. Tristan Jarry, PIT 1 (0-0-1)
7. Darcy Kuemper, ARI 1 (0-0-1)
NHL.com columnist Dave Stubbs contributed to this report