We are in a golden era for NHL goalies. Gone are the days where there were only three to five elite goalies that could challenge for the Vezina every year.
In the '90s, only Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Dominik Hasek and Ed Belfour had chances. In the early 2000s, it was only Martin Brodeur for the most part. But since the lockout, we've seen nine different players win the Vezina Trophy. On top of that, there are a number of elite goalies who are long overdue for their first Vezina Trophy win.
Heading into the 2017-18 season, there are a ton of goalies who have a solid chance at winning the Vezina Trophy. On the other side, there are a number of great goalies who you may think have a chance. But in reality, they don't have that much hope in winning it.
Here is a look at eight goalies who can win the Vezina in 2018, and seven that lack a chance.
*Stats courtesy of Hockey Reference*
15 Can Win: John Gibson
How much do the Anaheim Ducks just John Gibson? Enough to the point where they moved on from borderline star goalie Frederik Andersen, giving him away to the Toronto Maple Leafs last offseason.
Gibson is on the verge of superstardom; he carried the Ducks to the Pacific Division title in 2017, while helping them reach the Western Conference Final. Gibson went 25-16-9 and in 2016-17 with a .924 save percentage and 2.22 goals against average. His clutch play against the Edmonton Oilers narrowly helped Anaheim advance to the Conference Final.
The Ducks are once again depending on Gibson to carry them through the regular season and playoffs. Given his successful track record thus far, Gibson should be considered a darkhorse to win the Vezina in 2018.
14 No Chance: Martin Jones
It's been quite a journey for the North Vancouver native. Martin Jones was Jonathan Quick's backup in Los Angeles for two years, winning a Cup with the Kings in 2014. The San Jose Sharks were able to acquire Jones via the Boston Bruins at the 2015 NHL Draft, and it has worked to perfection.
Jones won 37 games for the Sharks in 2016, and backstopped them to within a pair of victories from capturing their first Stanley Cup. Proving 2016 was no fluke, Jones had a tremendous 2016-17 campaign that saw him win 35 games.
But the Sharks figure to regress quite a bit in 2018. Patrick Marleau spurned them to join the Toronto Maple Leafs, while Brent Burns (32), Joe Thornton (38), and Joe Pavelski (33), get up there in age. San Jose's Pacific Division foes are much faster, and they'll be lucky to even make the playoffs.
This isn't to say Jones will regress as a goalie, but the team in front of him won't be bailing him out as much as before. He can't do it on his own, so Jones is unlikely to win a Vezina in 2018.
13 Can Win: Pekka Rinne
Pekke Rinne has been a Vezina Trophy finalist three times -- in 2011, 2012 and 2015, but didn't win any of them. Nonetheless, he remains one of the top goalies in the NHL -- having carried the Nashville Predators to their first Stanley Cup Final in 2017. There's no way the Predators would have gone that far without Rinne's services.
With the exception of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season and an injury-filled 2013-14 campaign, Rinne has won at least 30 games every year since 2010. The 6-foot-5 Finnish sensation owns a career .917 save percentage with a 2.38 goals against average. Rinne is as consistent as they come, but he just hasn't been great enough yet to capture the Vezina.
There's zero reason to believe he can't do it for the first time in 2018. Even at 34 years of age, Rinne hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.
12 No Chance: Scott Darling
Arguably the best backup from 2016-17, Scott Darling finally gets his chance as a starter with the Carolina Hurricanes. After riding it out as Corey Crawford's backup in Chicago, Darling was traded to the 'Canes, and immediately signed a four-year contract to be their undisputed No. 1 goalie.
With all due respect to Darling, it's way too early to believe he can win the Vezina in 2018. Yes, the Hurricanes have one of the best defensive units in the NHL to support him. But Darling moves to the brutally tough Metropolitan Division, and he hasn't started more than 32 games in a season.
Darling has to earn some experience as a true No. 1 goalie before he can think about winning the Vezina. He doesn't know what it's like to play 50-65 games, so don't get caught up on him being in the Vezina race just yet.
11 Can Win: Ben Bishop
The tallest goalie in NHL history (6-foot-7), came close to winning the Vezina Trophy in both 2014 and 2016, where he was named a finalist. But no cigar for Ben Bishop thus far, but you have to think he's got a great chance in 2018.
Bishop, who's won 35-plus games in three different seasons, is now playing for a Western Conference favorite in the Dallas Stars. Bishop should get great support from a team that has Dan Hamhuis, Marc Methot and Martin Hanzal as shutdown players. Bishop is among the top goalies every year, and there's zero reason to believe he'll struggle in Dallas.
The Stars score a ton of goals, so it's Bishop's job to help out his team in preventing them. If he can do that, 40 wins isn't out of the question. Neither is a Vezina Trophy for the new giant in Texas.
10 No Chance: Corey Crawford
Corey Crawford hasn't necessarily played enough games before to earn serious votes for a Vezina Trophy. From Antti Raanta to Scot Darling, Crawford always had a quality backup to bail him out. But with Darling now in Carolina, Crawford could find it difficult to handle almost all the responsibilities as their lone reliable goalie.
Crawford has posted six 30-win seasons, so why hasn't he won a Vezina? Well, he's made it obvious that a ton of his success comes from the players in front of him. Antti Niemi, Cristobal Huet and Nikolai Khabibulin are among the many Blackhawk goalies who succeeded with Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa in front of them.
The Blackhawks figure to regress with Niklas Hjalmarsson, Artemi Panarin and Marian Hossa gone, too. None of these factors support the idea that Crawford can win his first Vezina in 2018.
9 Can Win: Cam Talbot
Being Henrik Lundqvist's understudy for the New York Rangers turned out to be the best for Cam Talbot, who has now developed as a No. 1 goalie. The Edmonton Oilers traded for Talbot two years ago, and he's coming off a career season that you could classify as "Vezina caliber".
After winning just 21 games in 2015-16, Talbot went 42-22-8 in 2016-17 and helped the Oilers reach the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. Talbot posted an excellent .919 save percentage and 2.39 goals against average while racking up seven shutouts.
So there's nothing to worry about here. Talbot is now on his way to becoming one of the top goalies in the NHL, and he'll start challenging for many Vezina Trophies. Though he's not quite a top-three goalie in the NHL, he definitely has the makings to challenge for the Vezina in 2018.
8 No Chance: Tuukka Rask
Tuukka Rask was once among the NHL's elite goalies, taking the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013. He followed it up with a Vezina Trophy in 2014, but Rask hasn't quite played at an elite level since. Granted, the decline of Zdeno Chara and losses of key defencemen like Johnny Boychuk haven't helped. The supporting cast around Rask hasn't been the same, so he's not to blame entirely.
But Rask did win a career-best 37 games in 2016-17, though it's hard to see him getting back there. His .915 save percentage was well below his career .923. He set a career-high in shutouts with eight, though. However, one shouldn't expect Rask to repeat that success again.
Also, the Atlantic Division looks a lot tougher in 2018. The Bruins aren't as good as Montreal, Ottawa or Tampa Bay. The Bruins will be in tough in 2018, and so will Rask -- whom you shouldn't bet on winning the Vezina.
7 Can Win: Braden Holtby
Braden Holtby took home the Vezina Trophy in 2016 after winning an insane 48 games, to go along with a .922 save percentage and a 2.20 goals against average. Holtby nearly won the Vezina again in 2017, winning 42 games while posting a career-high nine shutouts. There's no debating that Holtby is among the top goalies in the game, and it should stay that way for a while.
Holtby will have it in tough, as the Capitals lost core players like Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson, Karl Alzner, Kevin Shattenkirk and Nate Schmidt in the offseason. But he's been a workhorse since breaking into the NHL in 2010, and there's no reason to believe Holtby can't add another Vezina Trophy in 2018. Expect him to once again be among the favorites to win it.
6 No Chance: Devan Dubnyk
Devan Dubnyk was on pace to win his first-ever Vezina Trophy after an incredible first half in 2016-17. The Wild looked ready to win their first Presidents' Trophy, and Dubnyk was without a doubt the top goalie in the NHL. But that all fell apart rather quickly.
The Wild and Dubnyk significantly regressed in the last couple of months, and they didn't recover as the St. Louis Blues took them down in the opening round of the playoffs. Dubnyk did manage to win a career-high 40 games, while posting a .923 save percentage with five shutouts.
But given their porous puck possession numbers, the Wild were clearly a fluke in the early going of 2016-17. They're bound to fall back to earth, and that goes double for Dubnyk. So don't try to stress too much about adding him early in your fantasy draft. He's not going to win a Vezina, either.
5 Can Win: Matt Murray
Matt Murray's NHL career couldn't start any better. He's already a two-time Stanley Cup winner despite only playing in 62 NHL games through his first two seasons as a professional. You could also make a case that Murray should have won both Conn Smythe Trophies. he single-handedly carried the Pens when to the 2017 Stanley Cup when they were dominated by the Nashville Predators throughout the series.
With Marc-Andre Fleury heading to the Vegas Golden Knights, there will be no goalie controversy in Pittsburgh. Murray is the undisputed No. 1, and there's every reason to believe he can win his first Vezina Trophy.
Murray has suffered a string of injuries early in his career, so he's going to have to stay healthy if he wants that first Vezina. Should he do that, he'll absolutely be a finalist for the award.
4 No Chance: Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik Lundqvist has been a Vezina Trophy finalist on many fronts, having won the award in 2012. He's undoubtedly been the top goalie of the post-lockout era, with 405 wins and 61 shutouts. "King Henrik" has won at least 30 games every year except for the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season. He remains a top-notch goalie, though his stats took a minor dip in 2016-17.
Lundqvist had a .910 save percentage and 2.74 save percentage -- both the worst totals of his career. He's piling on the mileage at the age of 35, and it's safe to say Lundqvist just isn't that elite puck-stopper we've been used to seeing anymore.
It's hard for a goalie to sustain excellence in his mid-30s, and Lundqvist is fortunate to have a great roster in front of him. With Derek Stepan and Dan Girardi gone, the Rangers will regress a bit in 2017-18. As such, don't count on Lundqvist to add another Vezina.
3 Can Win: Sergei Bobrovsky
Sergei Bobrovsky took home his first Vezina Trophy in 2013, then added his second in 2017 after posting a career-best 41 wins. The defending Vezina Trophy winner posted an insane .931 save percentage and 2.06 save percentage in 2016-17. The Blue Jackets should be a powerhouse again in 2018, so there's every reason to believe that Bobrovsky can add his third Vezina.
There isn't a single weakness in Bobrovsky's game, and he's been consistently great through his first five years as a Blue Jacket. With John Tortorella's excellent system in place, Bobrovsky has everything around him to maintain the status of being one of hockey's elite goalies.
So with that, don't be surprised if he can win yet another Vezina Trophy. Bobrovsky is in his prime and has plenty of great hockey left in him.
2 No Chance: Jonathan Quick
Surprisingly, Jonathan Quick has yet to win a Vezina Trophy despite being a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner. The closest Quick came was in 2012, when he finished second in voting only behind the aforementioned Henrik Lunqdvist.
But unfortunately for Quick, his chance at winning a Vezina has closed. A lower body injury kept him out for most of 2016-17, and the 31-year-old is unlikely to play at a Vezina-level again. Aging and injuries are the biggest concerns for any athlete, especially a goalie like Quick.
Furthermore, his Los Angeles Kings have regressed as a team. They're among the oldest and slowest squads in the league, and it's tough to see them regaining their groove in 2018. That goes for Quick also, and he's unlikely to win a Vezina as he and the Kings decline in production.
1 Can Win: Carey Price
Carey Price would have won the Vezina Trophy in 2018 had he and the Montreal Canadiens avoided a rough slump through the months of January and February. Nonetheless, he won 37 games with a .923 save percentage and 2.23 goals against average. Price is just two years removed from a Hart and Vezina season, and he has all the makings to win yet another in 2018.
The Montreal Canadiens boast a nice core around Price, so he doesn't have to stand on his head like he did in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He's without a doubt the best goalie in the world, and should continue to frustrate scorers in 2018.
He's the safest bet to win the Vezina Trophy in 2018, thanks to his track record and perennial success. Price should be your pick to win the Vezina Trophy. Easily.
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