We have officially entered into awards season.
With the calendar having flipped over to June, NHL's award nomination period has officially begun in full force, beginning on Tuesday with the nominees for the Vezina Trophy.
Per the NHL's official release, Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy, Vegas' Marc Andre-Fleury, and Colorado's Phillip Grubauer will vie for the title of league's best goaltender, each presenting a compelling case as to why they should take home the hardware.
This nomination serves as the first of Fleury's 17-year NHL career. The 36-year-old undoubtedly earned it with his 2021 campaign, posting a sterling 1.98 goals-against-average, .928 save percentage, and 26 wins. Fleury's performance, combined with that of fellow Vegas netminder, Robin Lehner, landed the pair the William Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals allowed by a goaltending duo, cementing Vegas' tandem as the strongest in the league.
The closest Fleury had come to Vezina glory in years past was a fourth-place finish in 2018-19. Now, he has a chance to add one more elusive accolade to an already Hall of Fame-worthy career.
Grubauer is a first-time nominee, as well. The 29-year-old concluded the 2021 season with an undoubtedly compelling case for why he should receive Vezina honours, with a 1.95 goals-against-average, .922 save percentage, and 30 wins to backstop the Avalanche to a West Division-leading 82 points. This, mind you, came despite Grubauer missing some time with injury, nevertheless establishing himself as one of the league's premier goaltending talents.
Soon, he may have the hardware to prove it.
As for Vasilevskiy, Vezina nominations are nothing new. The Lightning superstar already won the award back in 2018-19, doing so even with arguably worse numbers than he put forth in 2021. In 42 games in 2021, Vasilevskiy finished with a 2.21 goals-against-average, .925 save percentage and a league-leading 31 wins, all while shutting out opponents on five occasions. There is little doubt as to whether Vasilevskiy is among the best netminders of his generation. A second Vezina win, however, would erase it altogether.
Regardless of who ultimately emerges victorious, this year's trio of nominees is among the best hockey fans have ever seen.