2022-23 NHL futures: Best bets to win the Vezina
Igor Shesterkin was the runaway Vezina Trophy winner last season. Unsurprisingly, he's heavily favored to repeat.
Is there still value in backing the New York Rangers' superstar netminder, or does it lie elsewhere? Let's take a closer look.
*Only goaltenders with odds of 50-1 or shorter are listed.
Ilya Sorokin (+900)
Ilya Sorokin didn't get enough credit for his performance last season. The New York Islanders might have disappointed, but it certainly didn't have anything to do with Sorokin's play in his first year as a starting goaltender. The 27-year-old led NHL in save percentage and high-danger save percentage at five-on-five, besting even Shesterkin in those categories.
Sorokin's performance would have been impressive under any circumstances, let alone behind an Islanders team that was surprisingly weak defensively. New York ranked 21st in expected goals against and 30th in chances against on a per-60-minute basis.
Given the Islanders' personnel, it seems safe to assume they'll lean heavily on their defense this season, and there's no reason they can't tighten up a little bit.
If they do, Sorokin should enjoy another strong campaign - and perhaps earn a few more wins along the way.
Juuse Saros (+1000)
Juuse Saros was an absolute monster for the Nashville Predators last season, especially in the second half. He appeared in a league-leading 42 games from Jan. 1 onward, and his numbers did not dip; he maintained his top-tier play despite being worked into the ground.
He was a worthy Vezina finalist and has a great chance to earn consideration again in 2022-23. At 27 years old, Saros should be at the peak of his powers.
He'll have more help this season, too. Realizing a top-heavy offense wasn't enough to contend - even with great goaltending - the Predators added some much-needed reinforcements this offseason.
They signed Nino Niederreiter, a very strong defensive winger who can also chip in offensively, and pried Ryan McDonagh from the cap-strapped Tampa Bay Lightning. Those additions should make Nashville a much better defensive team and make Saros' life easier at five-on-five.
If Saros continues to do his part - and the Predators move up the standings a little bit - he's a legitimate Vezina threat.
Jacob Markstrom (+2000)
Jacob Markstrom was a dud in the second round of the playoffs, but this price feels extreme - especially for one of last year's Vezina finalists.
Perhaps more importantly, Calgary improved defensively. MacKenzie Weegar played a huge role for the Presidents' Trophy-winning Florida Panthers last season. Adding him to a defense corps that already features Rasmus Andersson, Chris Tanev, and Noah Hanifin should give Calgary one of the best blue-line groups in the league.
The Flames should once again win a lot of games this season, and they're going to do it primarily on the back of great defense and strong goaltending.
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.
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