Steve Mason, the brilliant young goalie of the Columbus Blue Jackets, could become only the fifth NHL player to win the Vezina and Calder trophies in the same year.
But he'll have to beat out the Minnesota Wild's Niklas Backstrom, and Tim Thomas, whose league-leading goals-against average was a driving force for the Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins this season.
Unlike many of the other awards I've been talking about the past few days, the Professional Hockey Writers' Association doesn't vote for the Vezina. The NHL's 30 general managers do, and sometimes that results in some odd choices creeping into the top three.
This year's bunch aren't a bad crop, at least not the way I see it. My basic criteria for narrowing the field goes something like this:
- Goaltenders have to have made at least 50 starts
- They should have a save percentage that is above the league average for regular netminders (.909)
- They should have won at least 30 games
Those stipulations alone leave us with just nine goaltenders, shown here ranked by save percentage (and with this year's nominees in bold):
One of the main issues with goalie stats is that many of them are team based. Wins is obviously heavily dependent on things like goal scoring that netminders have no control over, and goals-against average is affected by team defence more than a stat like save percentage.
And then you have things like shot and save quality, something I got into in this post and which makes Backstrom's credentials less impressive.
My nominees would have been Thomas, Luongo and Mason, but I doubt it matters much. I'll be very surprised if Thomas doesn't win the Vezina this June.