At the start of the 2017-18 season it looks like that the Jets were prepared to have Connor Hellebuyck relegated to back-up duty. Six months later, Connor Hellebuyck won his 43rd game of the season and set a brand new record for most wins in a single season by an American born goaltender.
When the Winnipeg Jets signed goalie Steve Mason to a two year, 4.1 million per year deal back in July 2017, it was widely thought that the Jets had found their starting goalie and that Hellebuyck and possibly Michael Hutchinson would battle it out for backup duty. If Hellebuyck was to be a regular starter for the Winnipeg Jets, it was at best going to be a two-headed goalie system where Mason was a 1a and Hellebuyck a 1b option.
But the first two games of the season were a near outright disaster for Steve Mason and the Jets – not completely all the fault of Mason of course – as they gave up 14 goals in the first two losses to Toronto and Calgary.
Connor Hellebuyck got the start in the third game in Edmonton against the Oilers in which he helped backstop the Jets to their first win. He picked up two more wins over Vancouver and Carolina to get the Jets over .500 record. Steve Mason struggled in his return against Columbus which ended up being a loss, and after Hellebuyck turned in yet again another great performance against the Minnesota Wild that resulted in a win, it was clear that the Jets could lean on Connor.
When Steve Mason suffered a concussion on November 25 against the San Jose Sharks, the Jets had no choice but to run with Hellebuyck as the man in net.
The Jets struggled with injuries to both Steve Mason (who suffered a second concussion in Janurary) and Michael Hutchinson, but Hellebuyck made sure the team continued to have strong goaltending the entire season.
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) April 8, 2018
Not only did Hellebuyck set the record, but his 44 wins was tied with Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy for most in the league. His 3966 minutes played was the most among NHL goalies and his 67 games played was also tied for most along with Cam Talbot of the Oilers. His ,924 save percentage was good for a top ten finish among goalies as well.
With tonight's win, Connor Hellebuyck sets the record for most wins in a season from an American born goaltender at 44!
— #PrayersForHumboldt (@NHLJets) April 8, 2018
It’s been a remarkable season for the Winnipeg Jets and for Connor Hellebuyck who has seen an All-Star Game honor, two appearances in the NHL weekly three star award, and now a brand new season wins record.