29David Rittich Vezina
Photo Credit: Aidan Wong/FlamesNation

For Your Consideration: David Rittich for the Vezina Trophy

The transformation of David Rittich into a starting goaltender for the Calgary Flames has been one of the biggest stories of the season thus far. Through 51 games, Rittich is one of the biggest reasons for the Flames’ climb up the standings. Could he parlay his superb season into a Vezina Trophy?

The award

The Vezina Trophy is awarded to the goaltender who is “adjudged to be the best at this position.” It’s named after Georges Vezina, star goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens from 1911-25. He came down with tuberculosis prior to the 1925-26 season and soon passed away, so the Habs donated the trophy the following season to be given to the league’s top netminder.

The award is determined by a vote of the NHL’s 31 general managers at the end of the regular season.

Recent winners

  • 2017-18: Pekka Rinne (Nashville)
  • 2016-17: Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus)
  • 2015-16: Braden Holtby (Washington)

Last year’s voting leaders

(Voting points awarded on a 5-3-1 basis.)

Player Voting
1st 2nd 3rd SV% GAA
Pekka Rinne (NSH) 129 22 6 1 .927 2.31
Connor Hellebuyck (WPG) 82 7 14 5 .924 2.36
Andrei Vasilevskiy (TBL) 21 0 5 6 .920 2.62
Frederik Andersen (TOR) 12 1 2 1 .918 2.81
Marc-Andre Fleury (VGK) 11 1 1 3 .927 2.24

Rinne probably got the Vezina last year because he had strong box-car statistics: he was third in wins, third in save percentage and goals against average, and first in even strength save percentage. The only players ahead of him in most statistical categories were Antti Raanta (who was a sub-0.500 goalie) and Marc-Andre Fleury (who played way fewer games than Rinne).

Based on the voting patterns over the past few seasons, strong box-cars over a large in-season sample size will get a goalie into contention. If you’re a leader in most of the categories, you might win.

Handicapping Rittich’s candidacy

Let’s walk through the box-cars:

  • Wins: Rittich has 19, tied with Jacob Markstrom and Sergei Bobrovsky for eighth.
  • Even strength save percentage: Rittich is 0.930, third among goaltenders who have played 30+ games.
  • Save percentage: Rittich is 0.918, fourth among goaltenders who have played 30+ games.
  • Goals against average: Rittich is 2.47, third among goaltenders who have played 30+ games.

Nobody is ahead of Rittich in all four categories. Frederik Andersen is ahead of Rittich in wins, even strength save percentage and save percentage. Ben Bishop is ahead of Rittich in save percentage and goals against average (and he’s far enough behind in terms of wins that he’s probably not a big threat).

If the Flames remain one of the NHL’s top handful of teams and Rittich is the goalie that gets them there, it seems pretty likely that he’ll get a good number of votes for the Vezina. Right now Andersen seems the main competition for the award.

  • aye

    I think Smith’s struggles is a blessing in disguise, if he even had average numbers, BP might still be riding him like they are doing with Hellebuyck in WPG, and we probably don’t get to see the rise of BSD.
    Games will get harder rest of the way, hope he continues to rise to the challenge.

  • Skylardog

    The Flames have folded up the tent on 4 occasions before the final horn has sounded that have resulted in a gaol against Rittich in the last minute or so. Three of those times it happened after the Flames put the game away with an empty netter. The other they had a multi goal lead going into the final minute and gave up a weak one trying to get an empty netter they didn’t need.

    Rittich has fumed on all 4 knowing his team let him down.

    Take those 4 away (I know they happened), but he would then have a 0.923 save percentage, tied for tops with Andersen of those that have played 30 or more games, and a 2.32 GAA, good enough for tops in the NHL among those that have played at least 30 games.

    Please Flames, finish games. They are 60 minutes long.

    He has been that good.

    • withachance

      Wins over stats; personal trophies.

      I know it’s never nice to let in goals at the end, but lets be honest they’re garbage time goals and likely wouldnt have resulted in the change of the overcome of the game. All about wins at the end of the day.

      • Skylardog

        Yet Gaudreau was out trying to pad stats with the net empty in at least 2 of those.

        I do understand having JG out to do that, and I also know wins matter at the end of the day.

        However, there was also a push up ice to get an empty netter we didn’t need about 3 weeks ago, and the play came back on an odd man rush against Ritter where he made the save and got crashed. He grabbed his knee right away. I think we all held our breathe until he got up and finished the game.

        Those lapses can end up costing you a key player for the rest of the season. Just think of Smith’s injury last season with 0.something left on the clock. Good teams play the right way until the buzzer. They did that for most of the season, but had some momentary lapses in the last month. Lessons learned, I hope.

        • benfr

          If its the play I’m thinking of it was Gaudreau who carried the puck deep and Monahan was driving the net so hard he almost went into the net which is unnecessary protecting a lead-Monny should have at least stayed high to ply defensive while protecting the lead. Agree I don’t understand either of those 2 out protecting a lead with an empty net. Neither of them are penalty killers which is essentially what you are doing in an empty net situation.

  • MDG1600

    Kinda preaching to the choir with these “for your consideration” articles. I know its a boring stretch between games – how about some deep dives in to a few of the prospects. Like whats up with Pospisil since he got his NCAA plans Kaiboshed….

  • Fat Tony

    He wont win. But the way he has taken over for Smith and have the Flames at the top of the west, he will get some recognition. If his good play continues into next season, then you will start to see the love.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Yes he’s improved his game, but the Vezina, a little too soon to start talking this. He’s going to need more games I’m afraid to say.
    I wonder how the boys are going to come out and play after soaking up the sun and drinking a few pop? Could be interesting. Let’s get playing some hockey.

    • Off the wall

      These are the results of mid season voting :

      1. John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
      2. Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights
      3. Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs

      If we maintain our standing in the Division, there’s absolutely no reason why Rittich shouldn’t be among them!

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Off topic, 8 top stories Sportsnet about Leafs trade for Muzzin. Parade planning committee outlines route down Bay St. I hope it’s a Flames Leafs final, and we smoke them.

  • Joeyhere

    Gio should be favourite for the Norris
    Jonny making a case for the Hart
    Peters should finish second for the Adams
    And many other Flames including Rittich doing brilliantly

    But please don’t stretch these “consideration” articles too far – I’d hate to see a “Calder” consideration one here in FN
    Very pleased with our Rookies but let’s not get ahead of ourselves . the team wins and playoffs are the real prize

  • Albertabeef

    BSD has a 2.70gaa .910 svp since December 1st. This is not Vezna worthy most years. He may just end up top 2-3 in voting though. He has been pretty consistant which is good. Looking at splits Dave and Smitty have the same GAA in wins but Smitty’s GAA in losses is way more inflated than Dave’s. But Smitty’s 9-2 in his last 11 gets lost in the wind somewhere. If this keeps up there is no reason not to confident in this team come playoff time.