One theme in the NHL this season is that quality goalies are scarce. Stanley Cup favorites such as Colorado, Florida, Toronto, and Edmonton all enter the 2022-23 season with serious questions about their goaltending, while other fringe contenders, including Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Minnesota, Vegas, and Boston, also could be in hot water if their risky bets in the blue paint don’t pay off.
One place where fans can sleep easy at night is in New York.
Igor Shesterkin and Ilya Sorokin are counted among the best goaltenders in the NHL, not just by fans and pundits but by bookmakers as well.
Fresh off his generational season, Shesterkin is the clear favorite to win the Vezina Trophy at +250. By now, everybody knows the numbers the Ranger posted in his star-turn season, as he led the NHL with an absurd .935 save percentage and a +37.2 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx), per Evolving Hockey.
The 26-year-old followed up his spellbinding regular season with an MVP-like performance in the playoffs, where he posted a .929 save percentage and a +23.1 GSAx in 20 games.
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Shesterkin’s monster performance in 2021-22 vaulted him into the conversation for best goaltender in the world with another Russian, Andrei Vasilevskiy, but they could have some company this season in the form of the Islanders’ Sorokin.
After Shesterkin and Vasilevskiy (+500), Sorokin currently sits as the third-favorite to win the Vezina Trophy at +800. There was a narrative around the league this summer that Sorokin was going to be a sleeper Vezina pick, but these odds show that the affable 27-year-old played himself onto the map with a sensational season on a bad team.
Not only did Sorokin finish second behind Shesterkin with a .925 save percentage in 52 games, but he also finished runner-up in shutouts (seven) and boasted the third-best Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx). If the Isles were any good last season, Sorokin would have been on plenty of Vezina ballots.
And while it’s great for Islanders fans that Sorokin is counted among the favorites to win the Vezina, it is a little bittersweet for those of us who were hoping that the Islanders’ struggles last season would allow him to fly under the radar in this market and we could get him at a more reasonable number. Goaltending is too fickle to play a number this short (that goes for Shesterkin, too).
But there is another market where Sorokin is flying largely undetected: The Hart Trophy.
The last goaltender to be named MVP was Carey Price back in 2015 and it’s only happened four times since 1997 (Dominik Hasek twice, Jose Theodore and Price), but Shesterkin came close last season, finishing third behind Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid.
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While that may seem discouraging since Shesterkin put up absolutely eye-popping numbers and still came up short, it did start to get tongues wagging about whether voters overlook goaltending when it comes to picking the league’s Most Valuable Player. Playing into that narrative — that a goalie is “due” to win the award — could provide quite the payday.
To put it simply: If you were interested in playing Sorokin to win the Vezina Trophy at +800, that means you were betting that he’ll have a better season than Shesterkin, Vasilevskiy and Juuse Saros. If he does that, he’ll almost certainly be in the conversation to be the league’s Most Valuable Player, especially if the Isles have a strong season.
So if you’re going to bet Sorokin to win the Vezina at +800, do yourself a favor; take a little bit of that money and toss it on him to win the Hart Trophy at 125/1 (PointsBet) too.