It’s almost a mortal lock that come the NHL Awards in the summer that Igor Shesterkin will be one of the finalists for the Vezina Trophy. While securing the Vezina would be a tremendous accomplishment for the young goaltender, one could argue he is just as solid of a candidate for the Hart Memorial Trophy. Shesterkin is playing at a level that we haven’t seen since Carey Price won both awards in 2015.
Winning the Vezina would put Shesterkin in an elite category in New York Rangers history. The Vezina has only been won twice (J. Vanbiesbrouck in ’86 and H. Lundqvist in ’12) by a Rangers goaltender since 1980 . Only 3 other goaltenders (D. Kerr ’40, Giacomin & Villemure together in ’71) have taken home the Vezina in franchise history prior to the 1980’s. Taking home the Vezina itself would be a truly remarkable accomplishment for a goaltender so young in his career.
Through the first half of the season the young Russian netminder has backstopped the Rangers to the top of the Metropolitan division and one of the top teams in the league standings.
Shesterkin’s season is even more impressive considering that the Rangers have been especially weak at even strength. Usually when a team is this high in the standings their even strength numbers are much better but the Rangers have relied solely on their goalie to save the day.
Shesterkin’s .937 save percentage is currently the best for starting goalies in the entire league. His 2.07 GAA is currently only second to Freddie Andersen in Carolina who’s sporting a league best 2.03 GAA. One thing to consider is that Carolina is a far better even strength and well rounded team than the Rangers are currently.
With the way the team has struggled to generate chances five on five and their tendency to give up too many good looks, Shesterkin’s superhuman performance has catapulted the team atop the league. If Shesterkin’s second half of the season lives up to the first half, he should not only be looking at a Vezina Trophy but Hart as well. If he doesn’t fit “most valuable to his teams success” then I surely don’t know who does.