As the All-Star break approaches each season, it seems that fans argue over which players have earned the right to be in the conversation for various awards. One of these awards is the hotly-debated Vezina Trophy, which is awarded to the goaltender judged to be the best in his position. In the past, winners of this award are often the goaltender who is one of the best (if not the best) players on their respective team, has a strong save percentage and Goals Against Average (GAA), and has a large number of wins.
This season, Braden Holtby fits all of these categories, along with some other goaltenders across the NHL. Through his 33 games this season, Holtby has 24 wins, second only to Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning. In these games, Holtby has a .917 save percentage and a 2.66 GAA. Though these stats are not the greatest compared to his past few seasons, Holtby has still been a key to Washington’s success.
Stats aside, winning the Vezina involves being better than the other goalies throughout the league, or being more important to your team. For Holtby, that just might be the case. Some of the other frontrunners for the Vezina include Vasilevskiy, Marc Andre Fleury of Vegas, and Connor Hellebuyck of Winnipeg. One of the main differences between these three Vezina contenders and Braden Holtby is their team’s goal scoring. Currently, Tampa Bay, Vegas, and Winnipeg are first, second, and third, respectively, in goal scoring. Washington sits in eleventh. This is a major difference, and emphasizes the importance of Holtby’s play to Washington, which is much more essential to his team’s success than that of the other three goaltenders named above.
Despite this thought, there is still lots of hockey left to play this season, which brings up another factor that plays favor to Holtby – his consistency. In the remaining games, it is fairly safe to say that Holtby will continue his strong play; he’s a proven veteran. Vasilevskiy and Hellebuyck, however, are both still young and yet to play a complete season as the starter for their team, while Fleury has been dealing with concussion issues. At this point, it is safe to say that Holtby is in the hunt for the Vezina, and has a good chance of picking up the second Vezina Trophy of his career.