Vezina Trophy Value: Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin Worth a Look
We are past the quarter mark of the NHL season, and player awards betting is starting to take shape. The list of contenders for each trophy is starting to get whittled down to a list of top performers.
One of the categories with a shrinking pool is the Vezina Trophy race. Annually, the best goaltender in the league is handed the award, and only a handful of players consistently exemplify those qualities.
We’re running down the list of which netminders you should be looking at on the futures board.
Connor Hellebuyck – Winnipeg Jets
Vezina Trophy Futures Odds +850
If the Vezina Trophy was awarded for longevity, no one would come close to matching what Connor Hellebuyck brings to the blue paint. Year after year, the Winnipeg Jets goalie ranks among the best goalies in virtually every statistical category. After another stellar start to the season, Hellebuyck has moved back to the forefront of the conversation.
Hellebuyck hasn’t posted a save percentage below 91.0% in any of his previous seven seasons. More importantly, he’s maintained that standard early in 2023-24. The Michigan native has a 91.2% save percentage with a 2.49 goals-against average, tied for the lowest it’s been over the last six seasons.
The Jets netminder has finished top four in Vezina Trophy voting four times over the past seven seasons, winning the award once back in 2019-20. While other goalies fluctuate week-to-week, Hellebuyck is at his best almost on a nightly basis. There’s no doubt he’ll sustain, if not improve his standing, as the season progresses.
Thatcher Demko – Vancouver Canucks
Vezina Trophy Futures Odds +400
The odds-on favorite to take home the award, Thatcher Demko, has finally evolved into the showstopping netminder everyone expected him to be. Playing behind a resurgent Vancouver Canucks squad, Demko could claim the first individual accolade of his career.
Over the past few seasons, we’ve seen spurts of Vezina-caliber goaltending from Demko; however, he has seemingly mastered the consistency component this year. The American-born netminder has quality starts (games with above-average save percentages) in 13 of his 18 outings, highlighting his masterful performances.
There are a few reasons why Demko is the betting favorite as we start December. Demko’s 92.4% save percentage is the best it has ever been, and the 12 wins he has through 18 starts have nearly matched his total from all of last season. This price could continue to plummet, meaning now is the time to strike if you believe in Demko.
Igor Shesterkin – New York Rangers
Vezina Trophy Futures Odds +800
We can’t discount the importance of team success when it comes to awarding the Vezina Trophy. The best goalies lead their team to victory, irrespective of other factors. Igor Shesterkin straddles that line better than most others putting up some of the best personal stats in the game while also staking the New York Rangers to one of the best records in hockey.
Shesterkin is no stranger to this award, claiming it following the 2021-22 campaign. He hasn’t been able to match his 93.5% save percentage and 2.07 goals-against average from that season, but other factors point toward those metrics working back to where they used to be.
Through 14 starts this year, Shesterkin has an elite 10-4-0 record, but his resume is best reflected in his advanced analytics. The Rangers’ stalwart has nearly matched his high-danger save percentage from his Vezina season. As it stands, Shesterkin has an 84.5% high-danger save percentage, a negligible drop from the 85.0% he posted in 2021-22. Likewise, his even-strength save percentage is hovering around the same level, with slight declines in his special teams goals against. If those numbers stabilize, we’ll see a sharp increase in his overall save percentage.
Moreover, the Rangers have asserted themselves as a Stanley Cup contender, thanks partly to Shesterkin’s contributions. If he sustains his even-strength play, with improved special teams metrics, there will be no denying Shesterkin another Vezina Trophy.
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