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Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pilots Logbook 2018-19: Connor Hellebuyck

It was a down year for Hellebuyck who wasn’t able to match his performance from two seasons ago when he found himself in the Vezina conversation among the leagues best netminders. That isn’t to say that Hellebuyck had a terrible year, it was merely average. The Jets believe that Hellebuyck is more than average, so let’s take a look at what happened during the season.

Connor Hellebuyck
37 – Goalie
6’4″ / 207 lbs / Age: 26

The Numbers

CONNOR HELLEUYCK’S 2018-19 REGULAR SEASON STATS
Season Tm GP GS W L T/O GA SA SV SV% GAA SO MIN G A PTS PIM
2018-19 WPG 63 62 34 23 3 179 2051 1872 .913 2.90 2 3704 0 3 3 4
Career 4 yrs 212 205 117 64 17 537 6354 5817 .915 2.65 14 12137 0 5 5 4

Contract Status

Even though the Jets are coming off a disappointing season, Hellebuyck’s place in the crease is firmly secure. If you remember last off-season, Hellebuyck signed a massive six year deal with an AAV of $6.167 million. Hellebuyck just completed the first year of that deal so there are still five more seasons left which would bring us to the end of the 2023-24 season.

Player’s Season in Review

The important concept when looking at Hellebuyck’s season is perspective. After a phenomenal season in 2017-18, many people were expecting Hellebuyck to duplicate that success and lead the Jets towards the Stanley Cup Finals. Obviously the team under performed by a wide margin and Hellebuyck’s numbers dropped with it. If you are strictly comparing the last two year’s numbers, it appears that Hellebuyck had a bad year.

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The other issue is to compare Hellebuyck with his teammate, Laurent Brossoit. Hellebuyck struggled at times this season, but Brossoit was rock solid in the crease all year. It made Hellebuyck appear worse because Brossoit was playing at such a high level.

When breaking down the play of Hellebuyck himself, it was merely average. While that’s not a necessarily a bad thing, the team believes Hellebuyck is capable of being much better than league average, if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have signed him to a six year deal last summer.

Hellebuyck finished the year with a .913 sv% which put him 26 out of the 60 goalies who played at least 1,000 minutes. Naturalstattrick.com uses a goals saved above average stat which essentially estimates how a goalie would perform and compares it to how they actually performed. Hellebuyck finished with 5.76 goals saved above average, below Brossoit (9.76) but better than average as he was 20th out of the 60 netminders mentioned before.

Most of these numbers correlate with the eye test, Hellebuyck was excellent at times and mediocre during others. Some games he showed flashes of years past where nothing would get by him and he seemed to give up no chances. Those were few and far between unfortunately as he seemed to have more holes in his game as the season went on.

Along with that quirk, Hellebuyck’s movement appeared to be more erratic and he gave up far too many rebounds right in front of the net. It just seemed as though he found it difficult to move around the crease.

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The positive thing is that most of these issues can be solved over the summer. If he can get back to his usual self with great rebound control and efficient movement, there’s reason to believe he can get back to being a top 10 goalie next season.

The Playoffs

CONNOR HELLEBUYCK’S 2019 PLAYOFF STATS
Goal Goal Goal Goal Goal Goal Goal Goal Goal Goal Goal Scor Scor Scor
Season Tm GP GS W L GA SA SV SV% GAA SO MIN G A PTS PIM
2018-19 WPG 6 6 2 4 16 184 168 .913 2.67 0 360 0 0 0 0
Career 2 yrs 23 23 11 12 56 695 639 .919 2.44 2 1375 0 0 0 2
Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/29/2019.

The interesting part about Hellebuyck’s playoff performance is that it completely mirrored his regular season performance. He finished with a .913 sv% and looked merely average during the series. The important part of any playoff series is winning the goalie battle and Hellebuyck did so. Binnington finished the round with a .908 sv% and both goalies let in a total of 16 goals. Even though Hellebuyck slightly out-performed Binnington, it wasn’t enough as the Blues overpowered the Jets in six games.

What We Said A Year Ago

“This phenomenal play led Hellebuyck to be nominated for the Vezina trophy against two other elite netminders in Pekka Rinne and Andrei Vasilevskiy. Even though Hellebuyck didn’t come away with the hardware, he placed second in voting and received seven different votes for first place. While Hellebuyck finished second in Vezina voting, he did make it onto the  All-Star Second Team. In addition to these accolades he also made history by passing Tom Barasso for wins in a season by an American goaltender with 44.”

Future Outlook

As mentioned above, Hellebuyck is signed for another six years so everyone is hoping that he can bounce back next season. Having Brossoit back will hopefully provide more stability and allow Hellebuyck to get back to his boring but effective style of game. There’s no danger of losing the starting job, but some healthy competition in the crease should help both goalies reach their full potential.

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FINAL GRADE: C+