3 reasons Igor Shesterkin is not out of the race for the Vezina Trophy

Connor Hellebuyck may have a huge lead for the Vezina Trophy, but NY Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin could make a late-season run.

New York Islanders v New York Rangers
New York Islanders v New York Rangers / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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In a recent loss to the Winnipeg Jets, NY Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin did himself no favors for himself in the race for the Vezina Trophy, allowing three goals on 26 shots. Meanwhile, Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck saved 38 out of 40 shots, good for a 0.950 save percentage, and once again proving he’s the front-runner in the race. 

But Shesterkin is a former winner of the award, and he has, for the most part, put up some epic numbers lately. With almost a month to go in the season, Shesterkin could still close the gap against Hellebuyck and other legitimate Vezina contenders, but he must play mistake-free in the crease. 

Luckily, those in the NHL universe have seen such play from Shesterkin in the past, as his Vezina-winning season in 2021-22 was one for the record books. That year, Shesterkin won 36 games, posted a league-best 0.935 save percentage, plus a minute 2.07 GAA. Over 70 percent of his appearances were quality starts that year and his ‘really bad starts’ mark sat at just four. 

Igor Shesterkin can still make a run for the Vezina Trophy

This season, Shesterkin has looked average, or at least that’s the case in what we expect from the 28-year-old, who has 29 wins in 46 starts, a 2.60 GAA, plus a 0.912 save percentage. His cumulative numbers have steadily increased this season, and despite the occasional bad game, another great month would work wonders for Shesterkin. 

Further, Hellebuyck could regress during his final starts of 2023-24, which could open this race right back up and allow the likes of Shesterkin, Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks, Jeremy Swayman of the Boston Bruins, and others to make their case for the award. 

But Shesterkin could have all of the above names beaten, along with potential dark horse candidates like Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen of the Buffalo Sabres and even the Edmonton Oilers top netminder, Stuart Skinner. Let’s look at a few reasons why Shesterkin isn’t out of this competition yet.