TORONTO – Martin Brodeur is eyeing his fourth career Vezina Trophy and while he doesn’t have Roberto Luongo to worry about this year, Evgeni Nabokov is a serious threat.
The NHL announced the Vezina Trophy nominees Monday and Brodeur was again among the finalists for goaltender of the year. The New Jersey Devils star was joined for the first time by Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks and for the third consecutive season by Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers.
Vancouver’s Luongo, who challenged Brodeur for the Vezina Trophy last year and Sidney Crosby for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, did not get enough support for a nomination this season. The NHL’s 30 GMs vote on the Vezina Trophy.
Detroit Red Wings great Nicklas Lidstrom will find out who his challengers are for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman when the nominees are announced Tuesday. All NHL award winners will be announced June 12 in Toronto.
Brodeur, who won the 2003, 2004 and 2007 Vezina Trophies, went 44-27-6 with a 2.17 goals-against average, .920 save percentage and four shutouts this season. He led all goalies in minutes played with 4,635.
“He had an outstanding year,” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told The Canadian Press on Monday. “His selection for one of these three spots is without question deserving.”
It’s the eighth season Brodeur has been among the Vezina finalists. It doesn’t get old for Lamoriello.
“I know we don’t take him for granted because we know what he is and who he is and what he’s done for our organization,” said Lamoriello.
Nabokov is likely Brodeur’s more serious challenger. The Sharks netminder led the NHL with 46 victories while posting a 2.14 GAA, .910 save percentage and six shutouts. He was second to Brodeur in minutes played (4,561).
“I would go with Nabby,” fellow star goalie Marty Turco of the Dallas Stars told The Canadian Press on Monday. “He was pretty solid all year long. I’ve seen him a lot, more than probably most people. He’s my pick and I think he’ll win.”
Nabokov started all 43 games to begin the season and tied Brodeur by appearing in an NHL-leading 77 games. There was once a time when only Brodeur played that many games but Lamoriello believes his star goalie has changed teams’ attitudes towards playing their top netminder.
“Quite frankly, he’s probably changed the thought process because more and more teams now are having their goaltenders play more and more games,” said Lamoriello. “You’ll probably see that more often than not now.
“Things always go in trends and everyone has always questioned, not negatively, but question year in and year out Marty playing that many games but year in and year out he’s proved people wrong.”
Lundqvist, meanwhile, was also nominated in 2006 and 2007. He went 37-24-10 with a 2.23 GAA, .912 save percentage and led all NHL goalies with 10 shutouts.
Lundqvist’s 10 shutouts were the most by a Rangers goaltender since John Ross Roach posted 13 in 1928-29. The voting is conducted before the playoffs begin but it’s worth noting that Lundqvist and his Rangers beat out Brodeur and the Devils in five games in their Eastern Conference quarter-final series.