Last year, the NHL’s top goalie award, the Vezina Trophy, was handed to New York Rangers shot stopper Igor Shesterkin. The Russian netminder held a league-best .935 save percentage and 2.07 goals-against average, not to mention a ridiculous 34.1 goals saved above expected. Shesterkin was top-class and should have earned more than his 34 percent share of the Hart Trophy voting for how he backstopped the Rangers to second in the Metro Division and into the playoffs.
As is typically the case when it comes to NHL awards futures, the past winner is usually the early favorite to win the same award in the following season. Sportsbook Bovada has Shesterkin as the favorite to be the league’s top goalie once again in 2022-23 with +250 odds.
Here are the rest of the goalies in the top 10 of the 2022-23 Vezina Trophy oddsboard:
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NHL Vezina Trophy Odds
Odds as of August 4 at Bovada
Why Is Igor Shesterkin The Favorite To Win The Vezina In 2022-23?
Again, he won it last year with some ridiculous numbers. Allowing 2.07 goals against per game is wild. The next-best goalie in terms of GAA was Frederik Andersen at 2.17. Shesterkin’s average was also the second lowest for a Vezina winner over the last five years. His .935 SV% – he stopped 1,516 of 1,622 shots – was .010 better than the next-best goalie, the New York Islanders’ Ilya Sorokin.
Digging into some of his underlying numbers, his quality start percentage (.731) was 19 points better than the next goalie, again Sorokin (.712 QS%). And he stopped 5.7 more expected goals than the next shot stopper, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy.
And look, Shesterkin is only 26. He’s in his prime years so he’s not about to drop off in terms of his quality. The Rangers’ young blue-line corps wasn’t particularly good last year and Shesterkin had to bail them out often, but with another year under their belts, the mistakes of youth should be minimized.
So while Shesterkin will still bail out the Rangers defense when the need arises, he’ll have to do it less frequently, and that’s only good news in terms of his chances to win the Vezina in back-to-back years.
The Rangers’ odds to win the Stanley Cup are +1800, the seventh-best odds in the league.
Best Long Shots To Win The Vezina In 2022-23
Ilya Sorokin (+800)
He’s got the third-best odds to win at +800, so they aren’t particularly long odds, but they provide way more value than Shesterkin’s +200 and could pay out $600 more on a similar $100 wager. And, in my opinion, there’s a good chance Sorokin could win the award in 2022-23.
Just look at his numbers in 2021-22:
Now, look at the defense that Sorokin had in front of him in 2021-22. Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock are elite defensemen but Pulock missed 26 games through injury, leaving Pelech on his own for a while. Noah Dobson took a huge step forward in his young career, but he didn’t take that step until midway through the season.
That left 45-year-old Zdeno Chara, 39-year-old Andy Greene and a combination of Scott Mayfield, Sebastian Aho and rookie Robin Salo. The group of Chara, Greene, Aho and Salo averaged an awful 43.66 xGF% at 5-on-5 on the year.
And still, even with that well below capable blue line in front of him, Sorokin put up elite numbers. Now that Chara and Greene are gone, and with Alex Romanov being brought in via trade, the Islanders defense could provide Sorokin the support he not only needs but deserves.
Jacob Markstrom (+2000)
Markstrom’s odds are +2000 not because of his abilities as a goalie. Last year, he led the league in shutouts with nine, tied for third in save percentage (.922) and was third in goals-against average (2.22) and 12th in goals saved above expected (10.8).
His odds are longer than they should be because Calgary just lost two-thirds of the best line in the NHL last year. The trio of Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm combined for 305 points and held a glowing 62.2% xGF at 5-on-5. With that line on the ice, Markstrom rarely had to see the puck.
Losing Gaudreau and Tkachuk hurts Calgary a lot. But in the Flames’ defense, they did get Jonathan Huberdeau back in the Tkachuk trade and Huberdeau put up 115 points last year. They can also stick Andrew Mangiapane, who scored 35 goals last season, with Lindholm and Huberdeau to form a pretty potent top line in ’22-23.
What I’m trying to say here is that Calgary might not be that much worse off next year after the departure of Gaudreau and Tkachuk, and if Markstrom can repeat what he did in 2021-22 (and there’s no reason he can’t), he should challenge for top goalie honors this year.
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