Vezina: Brodeur, Lundqvist or Nabokov?

Tonight in Toronto the NHL will host its annual award ceremony (viewable on NHL Network in the US).  One goalie award is already known as Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood will share the Jennings Trophy for best goals against average.  The real goalie award is the Vezina, which will go to Martin Brodeur, Henrik Lundqvist or Evgeni Nabokov.  For Brodeur a win would be his fourth (in five seasons); for Lundqvist or Nabokov it would be their first.  As with any subjective award there are two ways to predict the winner… who should win it and who will win it.

How about a quick look at their statistics for the season (I’ve included playoff success even though the award is voted upon at the end of the regular season):

 77 GP, 44 Wins, 4 SO, 2.17 GAA, .920 SV% and a first round playoff loss



 72 GP, 37 Wins, 10 SO, 2.23 GAA, .912 SV% and a second round playoff loss



77 GP, 46 Wins, 6 SO, 2.14 GAA, .910 SV% and a second round playoff loss



Do any of those numbers indicate who is “adjudged to be the best at his position”?  Let’s start of by throwing out the GAA numbers since there is a separate award for the best GAA.  Throw out Games Played since almost all of the top teams have migrated to extreme interpretations of ‘starter’ and ‘backup’.   I’d suggest you can toss the Shutout numbers as well since a goalie who never gave up more than two goals in any game but never got a shutout would arguably be the most sought-after goalie in the league.

So that leaves Wins and Save Percentage.  Save Percentage has become the most accurate statistical measure of a goalie since it levels the playing field between average goalies on great teams and great goalies on average teams.  But in choosing the best of the best is it still the measuring stick?  And what about Wins?  If you win more games than any other goalie does that make you the best at your position?  I think these are the only two statistics worth considering but the award is decided upon by the leagues General Managers.

The good news is the award is not voted on by the media, which would inevitably give an advantage to keepers in New York, Toronto and Montreal.  The bad news is GM’s really only see other players in their conference and rely on media coverage and scouting reports to keep up on the opposite conference.

Brodeur is the easy choice.  Ask anyone in hockey for the best goalie in the sport and Brodeur is the answer 9 times out of 10.  Lundqvist has the advantage of receiving plenty of coverage in the national media since he plays in New York and may be seen by some as somewhat of a sentimental choice since this is his third nomination in a row (if he doesn’t win should we call him Buffalo Bill?).  Nabokov should probably be considered the long shot, playing somewhat in obscurity in San Jose. 

Despite the odds against him my vote is for Nabokov for two reasons.  1) Brodeur and Lundqvist both had seasons that weren’t quite as good as last season.  2) Nabokov was technically superb this season and has become a quiet leader on the Sharks.  Am I a homer, voting for the Bay Area goalie?  Of course, but living in the Bay Area I got to watch Nabokov night after night and he simply did not have a bad game.  Plus, he has developed the quickest glove hand in hockey.  The eastern teams are about to learn this next year when they start playing all the western teams twice per season.

We’ll see what the GM’s think in just a few short hours.



  1. I think Nabokov is the best goalie in the world. 😛

    And I think he should win the Veznia trophy by a mile.

  2. dominik hasek did have one right??
    well why do not have a picture of him????
    he is the best goalie in the whole world!!!!

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