Today, the NHL announced the three finalists for this year's Vezina Trophy given to the league's most outstanding goaltender. The finalists for the award are Tim Thomas, Steve Mason, and Niklas Backstrom. The Vezina is voted on by the general managers of the league's 30 teams.
#30 / Goalie / Boston Bruins
Apr 15, 1974
|2008 - Tim Thomas||54||3259||36||11||7||4||114||2.10||1694||1580||.933||5|
The Case for Thomas:
Tim Thomas has a great chance to win the Vezina this year. He has the lowest GAA and highest save percentage of any of the candidates and has only one less win than Backstrom despite playing in 17 less games. Thomas was a major part of the Bruins' unexpected success this year.
The Case against Thomas:
Some will argue that a Vezina winner should play more than 54 games and that Thomas benefited from having a better team in front of him than the other nominees.
#1 / Goalie / Columbus Blue Jackets
May 29, 1988
|2008 - Steve Mason||61||3664||33||20||7||7||140||2.29||1658||1518||.916||10|
The Case for Mason:
No one expected Steve Mason to have a year like this. The Blue Jackets rookie was slated to be the backup but was forced into action after Pascal Leclaire was put on the shelf for most of the season with a reoccurring ankle injury. Mason led the league with 10 shutouts and helped the Blue Jackets reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.Steve Mason probably impacted the success of his team this year more than the other two nominees.
The Case against Mason:
No rookie has won the Vezina since Ed Belfour won the award in 1991. His save percentage doesn't stack up to Thomas and Backstrom. Mason is the front runner for the Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) so he will likely get proper recognition for this stellar first season in the NHL.
#32 / Goalie / Minnesota Wild
Feb 13, 1978
|2008 - Niklas Backstrom||71||4088||37||24||8||3||159||2.33||2059||1900||.923||8|
The Case for Backstrom:
Niklas Backstrom played in 71 games and was still able to put up the fourth best save percentage and GAA in the NHL.
The Case against Backstrom:
While Backstrom was rock solid in goal for the Wild, Minnesota failed to make the playoffs. Backstrom's numbers were great but I don't think they they will be enough to win the Vezina.
My Pick: Tim Thomas
I never thought that I would ever write the words "Tim Thomas deserves to win the Vezina Trophy", but Tim Thomas deserves to win the Vezina Trophy this year. He has had a remarkable season and has earned this honor. I hope that the league's GMs will overlook the number of games played and focus on what he has accomplished in those 54 games.