Put some respect on Connor Hellebuyck’s name NHL greats

Photo credit:© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
By Goose
18 days ago
Be sure to check Betway to check out the latest Jets game day odds and bet on the NHL!  You might need your tin foil hat for this article because it veers into light conspiracy territory towards the end.
On Friday, the NHL dropped another NHL goaltending legend top five active goalies list. For the third time this season, Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck was left off the list.
Martin Brodeur’s list was the first one to drop back on February 23rd. The five goalies on the 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame’s list were New York Islanders netminder Ilya Sorokin (24-29-11, 3.02 GAA, .908 SV%), along with Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy (29-18-2 record, 2.87 GAA, .900 SV%), New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin (34-16-2, 2.64 GAA, .911 SV%), Vegas Golden Knights’ Adin Hill (18-10-2, 2.62 GAA, .914 SV%), and Calgary Flames’ Jacob Markström (23-21-2, 2.74 GAA, .906 SV%).
On March 29th, the king himself, Henrik Lundqvist, dropped his top five list, featuring the return of Vasilevskiy, Shesterkin, and Markström, along with the additions of Vancouver Canucks’ Thatcher Demko (34-13-2, 2.47 GAA, .917 SV%) and Boston Bruins’ Linus Ullmark (21-9-7, 2.55 GAA, .917 SV%).


Then, on Friday, April 5th, two-time Stanley Cup champion Mike Vernon dropped his top five list, including Vasilevskiy, Demko, and Markström, as well as Nashville Predators’ goalie Jusse Saros (34-23-4, 2.80 GAA, .917 SV%) and Dallas Stars’ Jake Oettinger (32-13-4, 2.83 GAA, .903 SV%).
I can’t be terribly mad at the goalies on these lists; there are some great goalies who I would use to start a franchise, but what on earth are Hill and Markström doing on the lists and not Hellebuyck? We all remember the 30-game run of three goals or less against The Jets goalie held onto this season.
Sure, Hill won the most recent Stanley Cup, but before that, what did he do that was significant for the NHL? He hadn’t played more than 30 games in a season before this season. In his last ten games, he only has three games with a save percentage better than .900. Even when Brodeur’s list dropped, Hill had already been injured this season. If you are going to judge Hill based on his first ten games where he went 8-1-1, that’s such a small sample size; how are you making a call on a guy by that logic?
Then there’s Jakob Markström, who is the epitome of slightly above average. Maybe it’s the bad teams he’s played for, but he’s barely in my top 12 of NHL goalies currently playing. He’s had one season where he had a .922 SV%, other than that, it’s .918 SV% or less, and most recently, he put up a .892 SV% in 2022-23.
It feels like all three greats are putting Markström on their lists because of his name. He’s a good goalie, don’t get me wrong, but who outside of Calgary is going to say, “Yeah, I would start Markström over Hellebuyck”? Sure, the guy has kept his GAA below 3.00 since 2014-15, but the guy is an average starter in the show. I feel crazy seeing Markström on three lists and not Hellebuyck.
Here is where I get into a little conspiracy. I don’t know if the NHL wants Hellebuyck to win the Vezina this season. Nationally televised games have not gone his way, so a lot of the eastern media has seen less than stellar performances from the Jets starter.
The noise around literally every other goalie in the NHL is so loud, and there is nothing around Hellebuyck. You would think if the NHL wanted to showcase one of the greatest (maybe even the greatest) American-born goaltenders, they would have made sure he was being seen by the greats and the general public a little more often.
December was the only month Hellebuyck won a third star of the month in the NHL. That is somewhat fair because how many players are winning that monthly award in back-to-back months, but there is not enough credit given to the Winnipeg market.
Even with Hellebuyck taking a step back in his performance over the last month, he would be the guy I use to build a team around. He is the only goaltender this season to play 30 or more games and have a save percentage above .920. He has played for some less than stellar Jets teams and has still dragged that carcass across the finish line with outstanding numbers. Not to mention a three-time Vezina finalist and is looking for his second trophy win and fourth time in the final three of voting for the goaltending award.
In short, I don’t know why Hellebuyck isn’t getting love from outside of Winnipeg, but the guy will go down as one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, and I hope the team in front of him is good enough to score big goals during the playoffs and get him that cup he and the city of Winnipeg deserve.

Check out these posts...