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Top goalie in NHL in 3 seasons debated – NHL.com

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NHL Network is spending the offseason presenting the best current NHL players at each position. On Sunday, the network’s producers and analysts chose the top 10 goalies in the League in a special program that airs at 6 p.m. ET on NHL Network. To add to that conversation, we asked eight NHL.com writers to pick who they think will be the best goalie in three seasons. Here are their choices:

Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers

The Metropolitan Division is loaded with promising goalies of the present and future, but you won’t find anyone with a higher ceiling than Shesterkin considering his likelihood of winning the Calder Trophy this season (still rookie-eligible after winning 10 of his first 12 NHL regular-season games) and the long-term trajectory of the Rangers. Russia-born goalies are the rage in the League right now, and we just saw Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning reach the pinnacle by winning his first Stanley Cup after dominating the past few regular seasons. A supporting cast of elite forwards Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, bolstered by forwards Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko and eventual No. 1 defenseman Adam Fox, gives Shesterkin a chance to be the next Vasilevskiy and sets up New York to be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference for years to come. — Pete Jensen, senior fantasy editor

It takes plenty of talent to unseat a legend and Shesterkin is loaded with that. The 24-year-old, who will be the Rangers’ No. 1 goalie after New York bought out Henrik Lundqvist on Sept. 30, and has put up some eye-popping numbers; Shesterkin was 10-2-0 with a 2.52 goals against average and .932 save percentage in his first 12 NHL starts. With Hartford of the American Hockey League in 2019-20, Shesterkin was 17-4-5 with a 1.90 GAA and .934 save percentage. In 2018-19, with St. Petersburg SKA of the Kontinental Hockey League, he was 24-4-0 with a 1.11 GAA and .953 save percentage. I can keep going, but you get the point. Shesterkin will go through some bumps in his career, but he has the potential to be the best goalie in the NHL in the near future. In three years, he’ll be 27 and the sky’s the limit. — Amalie Benjamin, staff writer

Video: SJS@NYR: Shesterkin robs Kane shorthanded with glove

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

My colleague Pete Jensen is my go-to guy when it comes to all things to do with fantasy and stats-based analysis, but I believe he is reaching here. He is right that Russia-born goalies are all the rage at the moment, but he has identified the wrong one as the top goalie three seasons from now. Vasilevskiy is 26 years old and already owns a Stanley Cup championship (2020) and a Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the League (2019). It is unlikely he has reached his prime yet. Last season, eight goalies, including Vasilevskiy (who had a League-leading 35 victories), won at least 25 games and the average age for that group at the end of the regular season was 29.6 years. Vasilevskiy will be 29 when the 2022-23 NHL season is set to begin and should still have an elite team in front of him. I’m not sure any of the next wave will be ready to unseat arguably the best goalie in the game today. — Shawn P. Roarke, senior director of editorial

To everything Shawn said, I’ll add this: Vasilevskiy has been a Vezina finalist three years in a row, and he’s 6-foot-3. In other words, he has been one of the best goalies in the NHL consistently; he hasn’t just had a hot season or playoff run. In three years, he will still be 6-3, and I bet he’ll still make it look easy. His size and style should help him age well. — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist

In order to predict who may be the best goalie three seasons from now, let’s look at the past three seasons. Vasilevskiy is 118-41-10, has the most wins, is tied for the most shutouts (17, with Marc-Andre Fleury) and ranks fourth in save percentage (.921) among the 36 goalies to play at least 100 games from 2017-20. Expect the next three seasons to provide similar success for Vasilevskiy and the Lightning. — David Satriano, staff writer

Video: TBL@DAL, Gm6: Vasilevskiy records shutout in Game 6

Robin Lehner, Vegas Golden Knights

All respect to the Russia-born goalies, but I’m looking to Sweden for my pick. Lehner was a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2019 (won by Vasilevskiy) with the New York Islanders and was an excellent acquisition for the Golden Knights, with whom he went 9-7 with a 1.99 GAA, .917 save percentage and four shutouts in 16 postseason games in 2020, all starts. Lehner is playing his best at age 29, and I believe he’ll still be doing that three seasons from now. — Tracey Myers, staff writer

Video: Top 10 Robin Lehner saves from 2019-20

Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets

Though I also was tempted by the impressive array of young Russia-born goalies, I decided to go with the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, who happens to be from the United States. Hellebuyck is 27, so like Vasilevskiy, he’s just beginning his prime. He was the main reason the Jets qualified for the playoffs last season. Playing behind a rebuilding defense, he was second in the NHL in wins (31), first in shutouts (six) and seventh in save percentage (.922) among goalies who played at least 20 games. Hellebuyck was also a Vezina finalist in 2018, when he finished second in the voting behind Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators, so he’s clearly not a one-season wonder and should be in the best-goalie conversation for many years to come. — Tom Gulitti, staff writer

Video: Top 10 Connor Hellebuyck saves from 2019-20

Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers

Having lived and worked in the Philadelphia area since the early 1980s, the goalie position for the Flyers has felt a bit like the drummer for Spinal Tap; at some point you just knew something would go wrong. But Hart appears to have solidified the position in a way that hasn’t been seen since Ron Hextall’s six-season run from 1986-92. Last season, the 22-year-old was the youngest goalie in the NHL to start at least 20 games, going 24-13-3 with a 2.42 GAA and a .914 save percentage in 43 games (40 starts). He was even better in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with a 2.23 GAA, .926 save percentage and two shutouts in 14 starts. Hart blends athleticism with an elite ability to track the play. With three more years of experience, he has a chance to be a dominant force at the position. — Adam Kimelman, deputy managing editor

Video: Top 10 Carter Hart saves from 2019-20

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