September 5, 2017, 11:22 AM ET [32 Comments]
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In this edition of the hotstove, we share our Vezina Trophy picks for the 2017-18 season.
Murray appeared in 94 games (playoffs included) over his first two seasons in the NHL. During that time, Murray picked up 63 wins, posted a .926 save percentage, and provided the Pittsburgh Penguins with a quality start 60.6% of the time. For perspective, only five other regular starters had a QS% above 60% over the same two-year span.
With Marc-Andre Fleury out of the picture, and Antti Niemi replacing him, Murray will be getting a steady dose of starts. Combine Murray's talent with the Penguins' ability to fill the net and he seems like a good bet to win a lot of games and post impressive numbers in the process.
It would be easy to go with the favorites. Last year's winner, Sergei Bobrovsky or Carey Price or Tuukka Rask, but what fun is that? Therefore, I am going a bit off the board for my selection and go with John Gibson of Anaheim.
Gibson has been solid his first few years in the NHL but failed to fully take a hold of the job until last year when Frederik Andersen was dealt to Toronto. He had a solid season and also was good in the playoffs. With a strong defense around him, though injuries could impact the team initially, Gibson should be able to take another step forward. In addition, the presence of Ryan Miller will push Gibson daily, since Miller will want to start as much as possible.
Gibson will be challenged to retain his job, but I think he is up to the task. That mental toughness should aid him in the ice. It's a wild card pick but one I think could pan out.
Steve Mason? Good lord the Jets deserve some good goaltending after what they have suffered for years but let's not get carried away here.
Would it surprise anyone if Scott Darling became a contender? Probably but there's something about his set up with Carolina that I am curious to see unfold and would not be surprised if his name gets mentioned.
In all seriousness, this is the hardest award to predict because goalies win Vezinas when teams do well and coaches win Adams awards when goalies do well. Pick one of Bobvrosky, Holtby, Anderson, Price or Dubnyk and you are probably on the right track. Also, pray for them to have some huge team success too.