Predicting the Top 10 Candidates for the 2014-15 Vezina Trophy

Allan Mitchell@@Lowetide_Featured ColumnistAugust 6, 2014

Predicting the Top 10 Candidates for the 2014-15 Vezina Trophy

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    The past five NHL seasons have seen a different Vezina Trophy winner each year. The last goalie to dominate the award was Martin Brodeur, who won the last of his four in 2008.

    Will Tuukka Rask go back-to-back after winning in 2013-14? Is it time for Carey Price? Or will we see another unlikely winner ala Sergei Bobrovsky?

    Here are the top 10 candidates for the Vezina Trophy in 2014-15.

10. Anton Khudobin, Carolina Hurricanes

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    The Numbers: 36 GP, 2.30 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage with the Carolina Hurricanes.

    The Season: Anton Khudobin had cups of coffee with the Minnesota Wild and the Boston Bruins before arriving in Carolina to a support role. Expected to back up Cam Ward, the new arrival outplayed the incumbent by a huge margin.

    The Future: Carolina is in a period of transition, and Khudobin is well priced for this and next season. They'll have to decide what to do with Cam Ward, but Khudobin has shown well enough to win the No. 1 job and challenge for the Vezina Trophy.

9. Jonathan Bernier, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    The Numbers: 55 GP, 2.70 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    The Season: Jonathan Bernier was splendid in his first season in Toronto. Acquired from the Los Angeles Kings and given the chance to carry the No. 1 job, he did it in style and won 26 games for a mediocre team.

    The Future: There could be goalie competition in Toronto, as James Reimer will be back in a support role. It's difficult to see a change, as Bernier performed so well in 2013-14. If the Leafs can improve in front of him, Bernier may carry the team into the playoffs and vie for the Vezina Trophy. 

8. Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues

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    The Numbers: 31 GP, 1.96 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage with the St. Louis Blues.

    The Season: Brian Elliott's performances have varied wildly in the last few seasons, but he delivered quality when called upon in 2013-14. He outperformed more famous goalies Ryan Miller and Jaroslav Halak this year.

    The Future: The Blues are going to run with Elliott and young Jake Allen next season. This gives Elliott a great opportunity to shine in a feature role, making a Vezina Trophy bid possible. He finished fifth in voting for the award in 2012, and led goalies in save percentage the same season.

7. Frederik Andersen, Anaheim Ducks

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    The Numbers: 28 GP, 2.29 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage with the Anaheim Ducks.

    The Season: Frederik Andersen was one of four goalies to perform for Anaheim this season, a large total for such a fine hockey team. His emergence allowed the Ducks to offload Viktor Fasth at the deadline and let Jonas Hiller go via free agency.

    The Future: Andersen's biggest hurdle might be the emerging John Gibson, who is an outstanding prospect in his own right. Andersen, a native of Denmark, impressed a lot of people this season, and should get the first chance to be Anaheim's No. 1 goaltender.

6. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

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    The Numbers: 63 GP, 2.36 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage with the New York Rangers.

    The Season: Henrik Lundqvist has been a brilliant goalie since his arrival in the NHL during the 2005-06 season. The 2013-14 season saw him lead the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final.

    The Future: Lundqvist is getting older, and is a previous Vezina Trophy winner. He'll be a strong candidate for the award in 2014-15, but winning the Stanley Cup is the goal.

5. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    The Numbers: 63 GP, 2.23 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    The Season: Ben Bishop was acquired by the Lightning in April 2013 and has been outstanding since. He was dominant during the regular season but his injury ended any chance Tampa Bay had to advance in the playoffs in the spring.

    The Future: A healthy Bishop should mean the Lightning are strong contenders again this year, and could go deep into the postseason. Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman did a lot of work this summer; and the team should be stronger in 2014-15.

4. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

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    The Numbers: 49 GP, 2.07 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage with the Los Angeles Kings.

    The Season: Jonathan Quick is one of the most famous goalies of his generation with a Conn Smythe Trophy, two Stanley Cup rings and a quality 2013-14 season. Quick's numbers during the year were average, so he'll want to improve on them in the coming season.

    The Future: Los Angeles had impressive goaltending in 2013-14, as both backups were more effective than Quick. The veteran will want to improve on those numbers, because a big season could land him the Vezina Trophy. He finished second in voting in 2012 and fifth in 2014.

3. Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche

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    The Numbers: 63 GP, 2.41 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage with the Colorado Avalanche.

    The Season: Semyon Varlamov exploded in 2013-14 with an outstanding season. He won over 40 games, posted the third best save percentage in the NHL and led his team to No. 3 overall in the final standings. 

    The Future: Varlamov took a huge step forward last season—and a lot went right for the Avalanche. If he can maintain last year's save percentage, a Vezina Trophy may arrive in Denver next summer.

2. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

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    The Numbers: 59 GP, 2.32 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage with the Montreal Canadiens.

    The Season: Carey Price enjoyed his finest season since turning pro in 2013-14. He was among the very best goalies in the NHL, and led Team Canada to a gold medal at the Olympics. In the postseason, Price was a formidable goalie and led his Canadiens deep into the playoffs.

    The Future: Montreal had a strong summer, procuring a lot of talent. Carey Price has an established level of ability that ranks him among the best goalies in the NHL. He could be primed to win the Vezina Trophy for the first time.

1. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

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    The Numbers: 58 GP, 2.04 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage with the Boston Bruins.

    The Season: Tuukka Rask blossomed in 2013-14, delivering on the promise of his stunning rookie season. Rask is clearly Boston's No. 1 goalie and absolutely one of the best in the entire league.

    The Future: Boston won the Stanley Cup in 2011, with Rask in a backup role. Tim Thomas played every minute of the playoffs for the Bruins that season, so he will want to win one on his own before his career is over. There's still much to accomplish, and he is in his prime. Rask should have a quality season in 2014-15.