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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It’s a good thing that the Rangers may not give Shesterkin much help

When a player in any sport wins a prestigious award, it’s typically not just the one player putting up epic numbers. Let’s go back to Connor Hellebuyck, whose Winnipeg Jets are tied with the sixth-lowest shots allowed through 68 games with 2,000, which equals 29.4 per contest. 

It’s also worth pointing out that Hellebuyck’s epic numbers have come in the way of the Jets perennially possessing an outstanding defense-first hockey team. When Shesterkin won the Vezina in 2021-22, Jets backup Eric Comrie posted a 0.920 save percentage. Comrie hasn’t come close to the same success during his time with the Buffalo Sabres, and it’s a testament to how good Winnipeg is in the defensive zone.

Fast-forward to 2023-24, Laurent Brossoit is, through 18 appearances this season, putting up even better numbers than Hellebuyck, with a 0.927 save percentage and a 1.99 GAA, plus two shutouts. Winnipeg has helped Hellebuyck immensely, and if Brossoit logs seven more starts, they are a shoo-in to win the Jennings Trophy. 

As for Shesterkin, he doesn’t have a great defensive team in the Rangers. Right now, they’re sitting 14th on the list in shots against with 2,031 through 69 contests, but they have allowed the 10th-highest number in the Corsi, with 3,278 at 5-on-5, and they have the 12th highest xGA at 142.6. But they also allowed the 10th lowest actual goals, tied with the Buffalo Sabres at 131. 

You won’t see many general managers looking at advanced statistics, but with Shesterkin starting roughly two-thirds of the games this year, he’s a big reason this team has played better hockey defensively. If anyone looks at such stats, or if enough of them do, he might get even more serious consideration. 

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(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference and QuantHockey)