One of the themes in the NHL this season is that the quality of goalkeepers is scarce. Stanley Cup favorites such as Colorado, Florida, Toronto and Edmonton all enter the 2022-23 season with serious questions about goalkeeping, while other contenders, including Pittsburgh, St. Risky in blue paint does not pay off.
One place where fans can easily sleep at night in New York.
Igor Shesterkin and Ilya Sorokin are counted among the best goalkeepers in the National Hockey League, not only by fans and pundits but also by bookmakers.
After the season of his generation is over, Shesterkin is the favorite to win the Vezina Cup at +250. By now, everyone knows the numbers the Rangers have posted on their star-turning season, leading the NHL with an incredible 0.935 saves percentage and +37.2 goals saved above expected (GSAx), for every developing hockey game.
The 26-year-old continued his stellar regular season with an MVP-like performance in the playoffs, scoring 0.929 saves and +23.1 GSAx in 20 games.
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Shesterkin’s brutal performance in 2021-22 prompted him to chat the world’s best goalkeeper with another Russian, Andrei Vasilevskiy, but they could have some company this season in the form of Island’s Sorokin.
After Shesterkin and Vasilevskiy (+500), Sorokin currently sits as the third favorite to win the Vezina Cup at +800. There was a narrative around the league this summer that Sorokin would be a sleepy pick for Vezina, but those odds show the friendly 27-year-old has himself played off the map with an exciting season with a poor team.
Not only did Sorokin finish second behind Shesterkin with 0.925 saves in 52 games, but he also finished second in closing (seven) and boasted the third best saved above-expected (GSAx). If the islands did well last season, Sorokin would have been on a lot of Vezina’s ballots.
And while it’s great for island fans that Sorokin is counted among the nominees for the Vezina Prize, it’s a little bittersweet for those of us who hoped last season’s islander struggles would allow him to fly under the radar at this market and we could get it. A more reasonable number. Goaltending is too volatile to play a short number (this goes for Shesterkin as well).
But there’s another market where Sorokin pretty much flies undetected: the Hart Cup.
The last goalkeeper to win the MVP award was Carrie Price in 2015, and it has only happened four times since 1997 (Dominic Hasek twice, Jose Theodore and Price), but Chesterkin came close last season, finishing third behind Auston Matthews and Conor McDavid. .
While this may sound frustrating that Shesterkin put in absolutely amazing numbers and still falls short, it’s starting to make tongues wagging about whether voters are ignoring the target when it comes to picking the best player in the league. Playing in this combo – that the goalkeeper “deserves” to win the award – can save a lot of money.
Simply put: If you were interested in playing Sorokin to win the Vezina Cup at +800, you were betting he would have a better season than Shesterkin, Vasilevskiy and Juuse Saros. If he does, he will almost certainly be in the conversation to be the most valuable player in the league, especially if the Islands have had a solid season.
So if you’re going to bet Sorokin to win Vezina at +800, do yourself a favor; Take a little of that money and throw it at it to win a Hart Cup at 125/1 (PointsBet) too.