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It’s been one week since Hellebuyck walked away with his first career Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender. While some people thought Rask or Vasilevskiy might take home the prize, it was Hellebuyck who prevailed after his sensational season.

With all of the awards getting handed out virtually this year, it’s important to see what the Vezina Trophy is actually for. The award is handed out each year to the “goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position as voted by the general managers of all NHL clubs.”

The interesting thing about this award is that it’s voted on by the GM’s of each team and not based on one particular stat. The description is quite vague which is the reason that there is such a variety when looking at the distribution of votes.

As you can see, there are nine goalies that received at least one vote which means there was a wide variety of opinions, especially when looking at the second and third place rankings. There was no debate as to the top three goalies this year with only three players receiving a first-place vote. Hellebuyck easily ran away with the number of first-place votes as he nearly doubled Tukka Rask who was second. The funny thing about these numbers is that each goalie only has 29 votes which means one GM didn’t participate or the ballot was spoiled.

This season, Hellebuyck was the clear winner which might seem a bit odd at first glance. Sure, he played a ton of games and finished second in wins, but the Jets barely made the qualifying round and Hellebuyck’s sv% was only the seventh-best among starting netminders at .922.

The conventional stats are solid, but not Vezina favourite worthy, so why was Hellebuyck valued so highly?

The simple answer is his workload. Nobody made more saves this year than Hellebuyck and honestly, nobody had to work harder than Hellebuyck.

It’s not just that Winnipeg allowed plenty of shots on net, they also allowed the most dangerous opportunities as Hellebuyck easily led the league in xG against.

(naturalstattrick.com)

Hellebuyck was expected to get scored on nearly 16 more times than the next goalie. Sure, a lot of that is due to playing so many games, but Hellebuyck needed to be the best goalie if Winnipeg was going to have a shot. The above chart also shows how rare Hellebuyck’s sv% was as only three players were above .910 and Hellebuyck the only one above .920.

So we know that Hellebuyck had a ton of chances against and that he had a really strong sv% considering the chances against, but how does that actually impact the team in terms of goals? Evolving-hockey.com lays out the quantifiable impact of goaltenders by showing two items on the far right, GSAA and GSAx. GSAA is the goals saved above average and it essentially takes the league average sv% and multiplies it by the number of shots faced. That gives how many goals a league-average goalie would allow. GSAA measures how many goals were actually scored on the goalie compared to what the league-average goalie would allow.

On the other hand, GSAx measures how many goals a goalie should have let in based on a number of factors and compares it to how many they actually let in. As you can see below, Hellebuyck destroyed the competition in GSAx by saving nearly 20 more goals than we would have expected him to. In addition, Hellebuyck saved 21 more goals than what a league-average goaltender would have saved if they played the full season in Winnipeg.

The Jets are a great example as they barely squeaked into the qualifying round. Imagine what their record would have looked like if they had 20 more goals scored on them throughout the year. That takes them from a bubble team in the conference and turns them into one of the worst teams in the league.

Both of these charts thus far have shown the impact based on the immense usage of Hellebuyck all year. This can often skew results because both of these items are counting stats which means the more time on the ice gives more opportunity to get better results. If Hellebuyck is consistently above average, the stats above will continue to increase with the more games played.

One way to get around this is to look at sv% instead of total goals saved. This chart shows goalies at 5 on 5 and compares their actual sv% to their expected sv%. Once again, Hellebuyck leads the pack by saving 0.836% more shots than he was expected. While less than one percent might not seem like a lot, it can make a big difference over the course of the year.

(moneypuck.com)

The consistency of Hellebuyck is truly remarkable. Not only did he play more games than nearly anyone else, he consistently performed much better than average despite a tough workload of dangerous shots.

Hellebuyck was so good this season that he even garnered some votes for the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.

It’s rare to see a goalie get this much love for MVP but he finished sixth in overall Hart Trophy voting and even managed to get three first-place votes.

It was incredible work by Hellebuyck all year long and this award ramps up the pressure for Winnipeg to sort out their other issues. The clock is ticking for Cheveldayoff to turn things around in Winnipeg so the team can capitalize on having the best goalie in the league.

There’s plenty of work to do for Chevy, but the goaltending is the least of his worries.

For now, let’s appreciate the great work that Hellebuyck did this past season. It will be one that Hellebuyck will remember forever.