The Winnipeg Jets Connor Hellebuyck is the resident reigning Vezina Trophy winner. But, can he repeat that feat. Even more interesting, can he repeat again this season when there’s a Canadian Division being planned?
How will Hellebuyck do this season? Can he be a Vezina winner once again? The proposed all-Canadian edition looks to be great on offense and not-so-great on defense. And, few teams – including the Jets – have over the past few seasons seemed able to play good defense on a game-to-game basis.
In this post, I want to report what hockey insider Sean Reynolds thinks Hellebuyck’s chances are to repeat as a Vezina Trophy finalist. The following video captures the discussion by Kyle Bukauskas and Sean Reynolds as they discuss where Hellebuyck will finish in Vezina voting next season.
Hellebuyck Is Driven to Be the Best
Reynolds noted that he was a big believer in Hellebuyck. He’s watched his practice habits and he’s spoken to him about how he approaches the game. One thing in Hellebuyck’s favor is that he simply isn’t happy with just one Vezina trophy. He wants 10 or 11 in his trophy case before he’s done with his NHL career. That kind of drive can propel a player toward continuous improvement.
Hellebuyck’s NHL Career Has Yo-Yo’ed Up and Down
At the same time, Reynolds admits that he’s a little skeptical. Specifically, Hellebuyck’s history in his NHL has been like a yo-yo. He’s had one good year and then a little bit of an off-year, then another good year, and then an off-year.
During the 2019-20 season, he won the Vezina; however, during his 2018-19 season, he just wasn’t good enough. But, during the 2017-18 season, he was a Vezina finalist – even though he didn’t win the trophy. Like a yo-yo.
And, that’s the point – he’s good, then he’s bad.
Hellebuyck Will Break the Yo-Yo’s String and Have a Great Season
As Reynolds points out, during two of the past three seasons Hellebuyck has been considered one of the top three goaltenders in the League. Then Reynolds goes out on a limb to predict that Hellebuyck will break his own trend and put together two back-to-back strong seasons. He might not win the Vezina, but Reynolds believes he’ll finish in the top three – he’ll be a finalist.
The only problem for Hellebuyck is that, as Reynolds notes, he doesn’t think the Jets did enough to improve their defense. And, the defense was much-maligned last season and that most hockey people still think is a weakness.
Obviously, any NHL goalie has a problem when his defense is porous. Last season, the defense put Hellebuyck into some bad spots. What will happen this season?
To Hellebuyck’s credit, however, he has figured out how to play off the style of his defense. This is the season, Reynolds believes, a good season would put Hellebuyck firmly into the conversation as one of the best – if not the best – goaltenders in the NHL.
If everything goes as plans, Jet’s fans will find out soon enough how Hellebuyck will do. A regular season’s start might be as soon as three weeks away.
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