Vezina Trophy rankings: The top 31 starting goalies in the NHL

With the first quarter of the 2017-18 NHL season in the books, here’s a Vezina Trophy ranking of how the league’s 31 starting goalies have performed so far.

As the 2017-18 NHL regular season hits the quarter pole, it’s a good time to take a look at how the goalies are faring. These rankings are a combination of a netminder’s performance so far this season and their projected chances of winning the Vezina Trophy. The list consists of 31 goalies, each team’s No. 1.

1. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
Quick traditionally saves his best for the playoffs, but he’s leading the resurgent Kings and has one of the best goals-against averages (2.31) and save percentages (.930) among starting goalies. He finished second in Vezina Trophy voting in 2012 and third in 2016. Maybe this is the year he finishes first.

2. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
Just win, baby. In his first season as the Bolts’ full-on No. 1, the 23-year-old Vasilevskiy has been almost unbeatable, ripping off a 14-1-1 record to start the season. Wouldn’t it be something if he became the NHL’s first-ever 50-game winner?

3. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
It’s kind of funny when you think about it. Crawford was often overlooked when the Blackhawks were winning Stanley Cups, but now that they’re middle-of-the-pack he’s getting credit for keeping them competitive. He more than deserves the kudos – he’s been the best thing about the Hawks this year.

4. Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
With two Vezina Trophies to his credit, including last season, he’s the only active NHL netminder who has won more than once. He’s the incumbent, the goalie you have to beat out, and Bobrovsky isn’t going to make it easy for anybody. Once again he’s in the mix for most wins (11) as well as best GAA (2.02) and save percentage (.933).

5. Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
The Jets’ goalie of the future is present and accounted for. Last year’s turbulence was merely a blip, the growing pains for a young netminder.

6. Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks
Don’t worry about Jones keeping up – he has the second-lowest GAA (2.13) of any starting goalie in the league and his .925 save percentage isn’t too shabby, either.

7. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
The 33-year-old has been more backup than starter in Detroit the past couple of seasons, but Howard is holding off Petr Mrazek and vying for some Vezina love.

8. Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild
The first goalie to record three shutouts this season, he did it in typical Dubnyk fashion, going three straight games without giving up a goal, the third time in his NHL career that he’s pulled off the feat.

9. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
He’s not done yet. And considering he has the NHL’s best defense corps in front of him, the three-time Vezina nominee could be in the running again this season – and maybe even win for the first time.

10. Mike Smith, Calgary Flames
He’s been as advertised – a solid No. 1 and steadying influence in the Flames’ crease, which has had more than its share of dumpster fires since the retirement of Miikka Kiprusoff in 2013. Smith started 16 of Calgary’s first 17 games before going down with an injury against St. Louis on Nov. 13.

11. Corey Schneider, New Jersey Devils
According to the Internet, “off the schneid” is a phrase that means “to prevent an opponent from scoring any points.” Schneider has been off the schneid this season.

12. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals
He’s finished fourth, first and second in Vezina voting over the past three seasons. And while Washington isn’t the powerhouse it has been in recent years, Holtby is doing his part to keep the Caps in a playoff position. Compare his body of work this season (11-4-0, 2.56 GAA, .921 save percentage) to backup Philipp Grubauer (0-5-1, 3.86 GAA, .876 save percentage), and Holtby’s value is more than evident.

13. John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
He’s holding down the fort for the injury-depleted Ducks, who are giving up 35 shots per game, tied for second-most in the league.

14. Scott Darling, Carolina Hurricanes
After being acquired from Chicago over the summer, Darling hasn’t received an abundance of goal support in his first year as a starter – although the Hurricanes have picked it up recently in that regard – and as a result, his record is a not quite glittering 6-4-4. 

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Dallas Stars’ Ben Bishop.

15. Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars
Not great. Not bad. Bishop and the Stars are still finding their way under new coach Ken Hitchcock.

16. Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins
When you look and see Pittsburgh down near the bottom of the league in team GAA (3.33), it would seem that Murray should be lower on this list. But he’s still doing what he does best – winning – even if his underlying stats aren’t particularly impressive. Check back in the playoffs.

17. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
‘The King’ isn’t dead. He is, however, pretty streaky. Lundqvist lost six of his first seven decisions, then won six in a row, then got blown out in Chicago.

18. Jacob Markstrom, Vancouver Canucks
After surrendering two or fewer goals in eight of his first 10 games, he’s given up at least three goals in each of his past five outings. Backup Anders Nilsson (4-1-1, 2.30 GAA, .928 save percentage, two shutouts) is more the story in Vancouver, but Markstrom also deserves credit for the Canucks’ surprising success this season.

19. Brian Elliott, Philadelphia Flyers
Whatever happened in Calgary, stayed in Calgary. With last year’s flameout behind him, Elliott is finding his comfort zone with the Flyers – especially recently, with a 1.40 GAA and .954 save percentage in a five-game span before Saturday’s 5-4 overtime loss to … wait for it … Calgary. 

20. Jake Allen, St. Louis Blues
His name loosely translates to “Satisfactory Fair” and that’s about the best way to describe his performance, too. Satisfactory. Fair. He’s been outplayed by backup Carter Hutton by a considerable margin.

21. Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs
Slow starter? Soft goals? Weak glove? Whatever. He can keep giving up three goals a game as long as the Leafs keep scoring four. Back-to-back shutouts aren’t bad, either.  

22. Cam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers
His record isn’t great (7-10-2), but he’s been doing his part to keep the Oilers in most games. He was in net for an 8-2 victory against Vegas this week, so maybe his and the team’s fortunes are starting to turn. Maybe.

23. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
He needs to be the best goalie in Boston before worrying about the Vezina Trophy, which he won in 2013-14. Rask (3-7-2, 2.89 GAA, .897 save percentage) is being outclassed by backup Anton Khudobin (5-0-2, 2.17 GAA, .935 save percentage) so far this season.

24. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
He has the worst save percentage among NHL starting goalies and he hasn’t played since Nov. 2 due to injury. When Price is good, he’s the best in the world. But when he’s not, the bottom falls out in Montreal.

25. Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators
He runs hot and cold. When he’s hot, he’s as good as anybody. But we haven’t seen a whole lot of the white-hot Anderson yet this season.

26. Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers
Thirty-eight years old, never kissed a grail. And it’s not looking like it’ll happen for the NHL’s winningest active goalie this year, either. But he’s still the Panthers’ best puckstopper, as evidenced by Florida’s struggles when Luongo was out with injury.

27. Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders
He was deemed the least desirable netminder of the Isles’ three-headed goalie monster last season and was ultimately waived and relegated to the AHL. But that was then, this is now. He’s back with the big club after reclaiming the starting job in training camp.

28. Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights
If he could stay healthy (he can’t) and the Golden Knights could hang around the playoff race (they won’t), Fleury would be a lot higher on this list.

29. Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche
Varlamov got off to a good start this season with three straight wins and he’s 7-4-2 overall. But his GAA remains way too high at 3.23, and he’s coming off a recent stretch in which he gave up 25 goals in six games, including at least three goals in every one of those contests.

30. Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres
He was handed the starting gig three years ago, but has he ever truly seized it? Don’t be surprised if the Sabres have a new No. 1 next season – and maybe before.

31. Antti Raanta, Arizona Coyotes
Anyone who’s tending goal for the Coyotes this year looks like the longest of long shots to win the Vezina Trophy.

Article source: http://www.thehockeynews.com/news/article/vezina-trophy-rankings-the-top-31-starting-goalies-in-the-nhl

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