The Vezina Trophy is awarded to the best player at the goaltending position. All 32 general managers vote to decide which of the finalists will receive the accolade. For the 2022-23 season the finalists are Connor Hellebuyck, Linus Ullmark and Ilya Sorokin.
I will be looking at a few generic goalie stats as well as some deeper analytics that you can find here. The more obscure ones I will be looking at are quality starts (QS), quality start percentage (QS%), and even strength save percentage (EVSV%).
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QS are games where the goaltender had an above-average save percentage. The percentage of games played (GP) where the goaltender had a QS is their QS%. Finally, EVSV% is the goalie’s save percentage (SV%) while their team is playing without a power play or penalty. After looking at all of these factors, there is a clear winner.
3. Connor Hellebuyck
Stats – GP: 64, W: 37, QS: 44, GAA: 2.49, SV%: .920, EVSV%: .926, QS%: 68.8, SO: 4
First things first, Hellebuyck has been a top-five goaltender in the NHL for many years. He has won the Vezina Trophy in the last five years, so the general managers in the league know he’s good. Objectively, he had fantastic stats this year. He tied with Juuse Saros for most games played with 64. His four shutouts put him in the top five in the league. He had seven more quality starts than wins, so he always gave his team a chance to win. When the wins and QS are the same or are very close, it becomes tough to distinguish if it’s the goalie carrying the team or the team carrying the goalie.
2. Linus Ullmark
Stats – GP: 49, W: 40, QS: 42, GAA: 1.89, SV%: .938, EVSV%: .944, QS%: 85.7, SO: 2
Ullmark led the league in GAA and SV%. During any other season, I would give Ullmark top spot. The numbers are absolutely insane for the season, and he put up those stats playing 13 fewer games than Sorokin and 15 fewer than Hellebuyck. He has consistently been above .912 EVSV% his entire career. These are all fantastic numbers. The one hair I have to split to give Ullmark second place is the wins versus QS ratio. With only two quality starts more than wins, an argument could be made that the Boston Bruins helped Ullmark more than Ullmark helped the Bruins. For that reason alone, he’s number two.
1. Ilya Sorokin
Stats – GP: 62, W: 31, QS: 43, GAA: 2.33, SV%: .924, EVSV%: .929, QS%: 69.4, SO: 6
Sorokin is the best goalie of the 2023 Vezina Trophy finalists. In only his third NHL season he leads the league in shutouts and is second in quality starts. He’s third in SV%, sixth in GAA, and ninth in wins. The deciding factor in giving Sorokin the top spot over Ullmark was the fact that he had 12 more quality starts than wins. That is the biggest disparity between these three netminders. He only played two fewer games than Hellebuyck but had better rate stats across the board. It’s also very clear that the New York Islanders wouldn’t have made it to the playoffs if it wasn’t for the play of Sorokin.
Hellebuyck, Ullmark and Sorokin are clearly the best of the best in the NHL. They are the top three in quality starts for the league. All three were in the top five for SV%. This is the top tier of goaltenders in the league. I know I’m not alone in saying that the 2023 Vezina Trophy should be awarded to Ilya Sorokin.