Commerce Twp.’s Hellebuyck wins Vezina Trophy as top goalie
Connor Hellebuyck: "It's very rewarding and almost a little bit of a sigh of relief because I was so close last time and I wanted it so badly."
Connor Hellebuyck has finally completed the journey from Commerce Township youth player to top goalie in the NHL.
Hellebuyck, 27, who plays for the Winnipeg Jets, is the league’s 2019-2020 Vezina Trophy winner, it was announced Monday night.
He was the runner-up for the award in 2017-18.
"It's very rewarding and almost a little bit of a sigh of relief because I was so close last time and I wanted it so badly," Hellebuyck said on NHL.com. "This year was just such a mental grind but was also so fun. I would have liked for the (postseason) to go a little bit better. But, you know, when I'm looking back on this year, I'll say we did some great things."
The Jets advanced to the postseason but lost in a best-of-five qualifier series to the Calgary Flames in four games.
Hellebuyck was second in the NHL in wins (31), first in shutouts (six) and seventh in save percentage (.922) among goalies who played at least 20 games. He was 31-21-5 with a 2.57 goals-against average and allowed two or fewer goals in 32 of his 58 games.
He also led NHL goalies in shots faced (1,796) and saves (1,656), and was tied for first in games with Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.
After going 44-11-9 with a 2.36 GAA and .924 save percentage in 2017-18, Hellebuyck was 34-23-3 with a 2.90 GAA and .913 save percentage last season. Before this season, he said he not only intended to bounce back, but to win the Vezina.
"Almost feels like getting a little bit of a monkey off my back after saying that, but now I really am looking forward to the next one,” he said. “The next one's going to be very glorious, and that's winning a Cup. It's not going to be easy, and it's going to be not just me. There's going be a whole team in front of me that are all going to have to buy in, kind of like we did this year, just battle and grind. I think we have the locker room for it, and it's only going to get better."
Hellebuyck made an NHL career-high 51 saves in a 3-2 win at the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 1, when he set the Jets/Atlanta Thrashers franchise record for saves in a period with 27 in the second.
He finished with 123 points, including 19 first-place votes, in voting for the award by NHL general managers before the postseason began.
Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning were the other finalists. Rask was second with 99 points (10 first-place votes), and Vasilevskiy had 31 points (one first-place vote).
Quinn Hughes falls short of Calder
Vancouver Canucks defenseman and University of Michigan alum Quinn Hughes was a finalist for the Calder Trophy, which goes to the NHL’s Rookie of the Year, but finished second in voting by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
The honor went to Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar.
Hughes had eight goals and 45 assists – which led all rookie defenseman – for 53 points in 68 games during the regular season.
Makar – who had 12 goals and 57 points – had 1,538 points with 116 first-place votes. Hughes had 1,337 points with 53 first-place votes, and forward Dominik Kubalik of the Chicago Blackhawks had 554 points (no first-place votes).