Today the NHL announced that Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne has been named as one of the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, which goes to the league's best goalie as voted upon by the general managers of all 30 teams.
While Steve Sullivan has won the Masterton Trophy, Barry Trotz been nominated for the Jack Adams and David Poile General Manager of the Year, this is the first time a Predator is up for major hardware awarded for on-ice performance. Rinne's nomination is well-deserved, and while he won't be favored to win, it's some refreshing recognition that doesn't often come to hockey in the Music City.
Follow after the jump as we review the candidacy of the three finalists...
#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators
Nov 03, 1982
|2010 - Pekka Rinne||64||3789||33||22||9||134||2.12||1905||1771||.930||6|
Rinne filled a void left by the departure of Tomas Vokoun in 2007 as the undisputed #1 goaltender in Nashville, putting together a consistent, and at times dominating, campaign. Despite missing a good chunk of time due to injury, Rinne finished 2nd in the NHL in both GAA and save percentage, the latter of which was good for 14th in NHL history.
There's a good argument to be made that no one in the league was more valuable to his team than Rinne, but then, that's more in line with the criteria for the Hart Trophy, not the Vezina. Was Pekka Rinne the best goaltender in the NHL this season? At times, absolutely, but it will be almost impossible to beat the following candidate...
#30 / Goalie / Boston Bruins
Apr 15, 1974
|2010 - Tim Thomas||57||3364||35||11||9||112||2.00||1811||1699||.938||9|
Thomas, who won this award two seasons ago, is the prohibitive favorite this year after setting a new NHL record with his .938 save percentage. When you consider seasons in which a goalie played at least 20 games, Thomas now owns the #1 and #5 save percentage performances of all time, a remarkable achievement for a guy whose career is supposed to be winding down at age 37.
On the other hand, Thomas played behind a much better team than Rinne, and the drop-off to Tuukka Rask is nowhere near as steep as the one from Rinne to Anders Lindback. That being said, the numbers don't lie, so you can expect Thomas to go home with the hardware despite playing in just 57 games.
#1 / Goalie / Vancouver Canucks
Apr 04, 1979
|2010 - Roberto Luongo||60||3590||38||15||126||2.11||1753||1627||.928||4|
Ah, Bobby Lou - one of the league's very best regular season goalies. Nominated for the Vezina twice in his career, Luongo has never won a major NHL award, and I don't think he will, either.