Igor Shesterkin clearly was the Rangers’ Most Valuable Player in the 2021-22 season, but he didn’t end up getting enough leaguewide support to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP.
However, the 26-year-old goaltender did, as expected, take home the Vezina Trophy Tuesday night as the top goaltender in the league, the NHL announced at its Awards Show in Tampa.
Also getting recognized for the Rangers was general manager Chris Drury, who was named as one of the three finalists for the Jim Gregory Award, as GM of the Year. The winner of that award will be announced at the NHL draft next month in Montreal.
Shesterkin was a near-unanimous selection for the Vezina, which is voted on by NHL general managers. He garnered 29 of the 32 first-place votes, and three second place votes, to accumulate a total of 154 points. Neither of the other two finalists for the award, Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom and Nashville’s Juuse Saros, got a first-place vote.
Frederik Andersen of Carolina, Andrei Vasilevskiy of Tampa Bay and Shesterkin’s pal, Ilya Sorokin, of the Islanders, got the remaining first-place votes.
In accepting the award, Shesterkin congratulated Markstrom and Saros. “You are incredible goalies and you could easily be standing here right now,’’ he said.
And he thanked the Rangers coaches, the fans, and the entire organization, singling out goalie coach Benoit Allaire for helping him put together a 36-13-4 record, with a league-best goals-against average of 2.07 and a league-high save percentage of .935, plus six shutouts, the third-most in the league.
“To my parents, I wouldn't be where I am today without your love and guidance,’’ Shesterkin said, reading from prepared remarks. “And to my beautiful wife, [thanks] for your support. And unfortunately she couldn't be here tonight because we are having a baby soon. So, what a year.’’
Shesterkin is the sixth Ranger to win the Vezina, following Dave Kerr (1939-40), Eddie Giacomin and Gilles Villemure, who shared the award in 1970-71, John Vanbiesbrouck (1985-86), and Henrik Lundqvist, who won it in 2011-12, when he went 39-18-5, with a GAA of 1.97 and a save percentage of .930.
After the ceremony, Shesterkin said Lundqvist, who he replaced as the Rangers’ No. 1 goalie, was his favorite goaltender to watch when he was growing up.
“He was a very good goalie,’’ Shesterkin said of Lundqvist. “It was so fun to watch how he played. Just incredible.’’
Shesterkin followed his award-winning regular season by starting 20 playoff games in helping the Rangers get to the Eastern Conference Final. He went 10-9 in the postseason, with a 2.59 goals-against average, and a .929 save percentage.
At the Rangers’ breakup day last week, Shesterkin was asked about the honor of being named a finalist for both the Vezina and Hart trophies. He said then he didn’t believe he had a realistic chance to win the Hart Trophy, given the seasons that Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid put up. Matthews, who scored a league-leading 60 goals in the regular season, won the award.
“But I didn't let Matthews score on me, so I'm happy,’’ he joked. “I didn't play against McDavid, but every day I watched highlights, and they are top players.’’
Shesterkin was named first team All-NHL. Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, of Long Beach, was named to the second team.
Cale Makar, the young star of the Colorado Avalanche, won the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman, beating out finalists Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman, against whom Makar is competing against in the Stanley Cup Final.
Moritz Seider of the Detroit Red Wings won the Calder Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s Rookie of the Year. The Ted Lindsay Award, which goes to the league’s Most Outstanding Player, as voted by the NHL Players’ Association, was awarded to Matthews.