Tough call, but 2021 Vezina Trophy goes to Marc-Andre Fleury

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Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury put an exclamation point on an unlikely season by winning the 2021 Vezina Trophy. Fleury beat out Vezina Trophy finalists Philipp Grubauer (Avalanche) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (Lightning).

The NHL’s 31 GMs vote on the Vezina Trophy, which is given to the goaltender “adjudged to be the best at this position.”

Vasilevskiy won the 2019 Vezina Trophy, while Grubauer and Fleury were first-time finalists.

Fleury wins 2021 Vezina Trophy; Voters had strong choices

For a significant chunk of the 2020-21 season, it seemed like Vasilevskiy would be an obvious choice for the 2021 Vezina Trophy. Vasilevskiy slipped ever so slightly, though, opening the door for Marc-Andre Fleury, and others.

Fleury went into the 2020-21 season as Robin Lehner‘s expected backup. Instead, he won his first Vezina Trophy. Fleury went 26-10-0 in 2020-21, sporting a fantastic .928 save percentage and 1.98 GAA. Fleury also checked out by analytics metrics, including a Goals Saved Against Average of 20.12.

All three goalies enjoyed excellent seasons, but by certain metrics, Vasilevskiy and Fleury boast better Vezina arguments than Grubauer. (Personally, it was a mild surprise to see Grubauer’s name alongside Vasilevskiy and Fleury.)

None of that is to say that Grubauer had no business in the 2021 Vezina conversation; instead, the point is that there were some other strong candidates. Juuse Saros carried the Predators to a playoff berth with a blistering finish. Semyon Varlamov ranked as the latest Islanders goalie to put up elite numbers. When you consider the often-porous Jets defense, 2020 Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck made a strong case as a finalist, too.

Check out the voting results for the Vezina Trophy:

Vezina Trophy voting Fleury Vasilevskiy
via the NHL

As a side note, it’s interesting that the PHWA voted Vasilevskiy to the First NHL All-Star Team, while Fleury was on the second. Click here for more, but here were those results:

The following award NHL winners were announced earlier in the playoffs:

King Clancy: Pekka Rinne
Jack Adams Award: Rod Brind’Amour
Selke Trophy: Aleksander Barkov
Masterton Trophy: Oskar Lindblom
Jim Gregory GM of the Year Award: Lou Lamoriello
Lady Byng Trophy: Jaccob Slavin
Mark Messier Leadership Award: Patrice Bergeron
Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award: Kevin Hodgson

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.