NHL Awards: Who will win the Vezina Trophy in 2020?

SUNRISE, FL - OCT. 8: Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Florida Panthers warms up on the ice prior to the start of the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at the BB&T Center on October 8, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - OCT. 8: Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Florida Panthers warms up on the ice prior to the start of the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at the BB&T Center on October 8, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Vezina Trophy, which goes to the NHL’s top goalie, is among the most prestigious NHL awards. Who are the favorites to take it home this season?

One of the most historic trophies in all hockey, the Vezina Trophy has changed over the years. The third oldest individual trophy, it used to be for best goals against average. Currently, it’s for the NHL’s best goalie and, side note, it is actually my favorite of the NHL awards. Let’s talk about the Vezina Trophy.

The odds to win the Vezina Trophy, according to Bovada Sportsbook, have Frederik Andersen as the best bet, followed by Andrei Vasilevskiy and Ben Bishop. Vegas odds are often correct, but not always. Here’s my prediction for the Vezina Trophy in 2019-20.

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Runner Up: Andrei Vasilevskiy – Tampa Bay Lightning

I think we have to start with last year’s award winner. Since he took sole possession of the net for the Tampa Bay Lightning, he has been unbelievable. After seeing Ben Bishop leave town, last season, Andrei Vasilevskiy put the eighth-best single-season wins total in NHL history. His goals against average and save percentage were quite amazing as well.

Standing 6’4″ and 215 lbs, Vasilevskiy is pretty much the perfect size for a goaltender. He’s long enough to make incredible saves, short enough to be able to move fast, big enough to take the damage, and slender enough to be flexible. He is the sturdy wall that allows the high flying Lightning to rush as they do.

I’m sure Andrei will have another stellar year. At only 25 years old, he will continue to get better and better. Why do I have him not winning then, you may ask? Well, there hasn’t been a repeat winner since 2008, with Martin Brodeur. I know it’s not my usual answer that’s supported by stats, analytics and such, but it’s just a gut feeling. Just deal with it, ok?

Runner Up: Jordan Binnington – St. Louis Blues

Some people are aware of the rookie season Jordan Binnington had last year, but I don’t think to it’s full extent.  Sure, most know that he came out of almost nowhere to lead the St. Louis Blues to their first Stanley Cup, but let’s note a couple of things.

First of all, Binnington was not even the starter for the AHL affiliate at the beginning of last season. Next, the Blues were in dead last when Binnington played his first NHL game of 2019 in January.  Finally, he won 80% of his games last season, while finishing fourth in save percentage and first in goals against average among eligible netminders.

I know there isn’t a lot of history to go off of when it comes to Binnington, but I’m sold. When you look at his rapid progression, coupled with the NHL resume, I don’t see him as a flash in the pan, but more as a long time answer in the net that the Blues have been looking for after so many seasons splitting the net. Mark my words now – it will happen soon.

Wild Card: DavidRittich – Calgary Flames

The rookie season of David Rittich almost got forgotten in a way.  If it weren’t for Binnington’s immediate success out of the blue, the Calgary Flames netminder would be showing up in a lot more headlines. Just because people aren’t talking as much as they should, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be gushing about Rittich.

The Flames have been searching for an answer for many things since they went to the Finals before the lockout and one of which is between the pipes. Many a Flames fan have writhed in agony, thinking things were great, not noticing the shoe about to fall. I’m just gonna say it, Rittich is the best they’ve had since Miikka Kiprusoff.

Bold statement, I know, but facts are facts. The Flames have not seen a winning percentage from any goaltender since Kipper at any time like they did last season with Rittich. Go ahead, look it up. To save you some time, here are the cold, hard numbers.

From their last Cup run with Kiprusoff over 15 years ago, the best winning percentage in any season, by any goalie was 71% in Miikka’s first season with the Flames. Same goes for percentage getting at least a point, which was 63% in the same season. Rittich’s numbers were 75% and 66 % comparatively.  Trust me, it’s not too early to get excited.

Winner: Sergei Bobrovsky – Florida Panthers

I’ll let you in on a secret.  I thought Sergei Bobrovsky had played his best hockey after he won his first Vezina trophy.  After making the Flyers look foolish for trading him, Bobrovsky rewarded his new team with a Vezina in his first season with Columbus.

After that, his goals against average started climbing and his save percentage began falling. But, low and behold, he turned around and won his second Vezina in 2017. That being said, he’s shown the same symptoms as the last time, but I have faith this time around. There is no where but up with the Florida Panthers.

It is a weird thing to say after so many disappointing seasons for Florida. After all, since their existence, the Panthers have only made the postseason five times, getting ousted in the first round in all but one. So, what’s the difference this time?  Everything!

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I am not going to disrespect the organization, but they have had a hard time getting a complete team together. If they excelled at something, they were always lacking elsewhere. For once, I’m gonna say it, the Panthers have no holes. Bobrovsky is the missing puzzle piece.