Saturday, February 1, 2020

Connor Hellebuyck Jersey Card

We're now past the mid-season point of the NHL season and we're starting the see the story lines clearly: which teams are surprisingly good, which ones are a disappointment, which players are having down years, who has risen to elite status, who the most important players to their teams are.

Connor Hellebuyck's Winnipeg Jets may currently be outside the playoff picture looking in - they're three points from the final Western Wild Card spot and three points behind the Dallas Stars in their own division, yet he leads the NHL with 4 shutouts, has played the third-most minutes (2318:40), has faced the most shots at 5-on-5 (1,030) and the most high-danger shots against (283); he is also ninth in save percentage (.917) among goalies who have played over 20 games and is top 10 in even-strength save percentage (.927) despite the Jets losing the likes of Jacob Trouba (trade), Dustin Byfuglien (injury and dispute with management), Tyler Myers an Ben Chiarot (both via free agency) on defense over the summer.

Not only is he the front-runner for the Vezina Trophy in my opinion - ahead of the likes of Darcy Kuemper, Tuukka Rask, Elvis Merzlikins, Tristan Jarry and Ben Bishop, all of whom are part of successful platoons this season and have accrued much more rest than Hellebuyck - but he should also finish in the top-10 for the Hart Trophy if he manages to pull Winnipeg into the postseason, behind the likes of Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, David Pastrnak, Jonathan Huberdeau and slightly ahead of Roman Josi, Leon Draisaitl and Artemi Panarin.

He just played in his second career All-Star Game last week; here's what he looked like in the first one, two seasons ago:
It's card #AS-CH from Upper Deck's 2018-19 SP Game-Used Edition collection and All-Star Skills Fabrics sub-set, which I won in a group break. It features a light blue jersey swatch that UD guarantees was worn in the skills competition:
I like this. It's specific, it's clear, there's a picture as proof of authenticity.

I had predicted he would be this good at about this time in his career in 2017, but let's not forget he was ahead of even my expectations when he was nominated for the Vezina two years ago.

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