For a second-straight year, a Boston Bruins goaltender could be in the running for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender.
And the craziest thing is, the conversation as to which one actually ends up being in the race — if not both — is still very much up in the air.
As of Dec. 18, Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark both rank in the Top 20 in save percentage and goals-against average among goaltenders who have played at least 10 games this season.
Ullmark, the defending Vezina Trophy winner, is 10-4-1 in 15 starts with a .915 save percentage and a 2.79 goals-against average.
His save percentage is 13th among qualifying goaltenders and his goals-against average is 19th.
The 25-year-old Swayman, on the other hand, has emerged as a bigger favorite to win the award as the NHL’s best goaltender.
Swayman is 9-1-4 with a .933 save percentage and a 2.06 goals-against average, as of Dec. 18. His save percentage is tied with Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill for the best in the NHL while his goals-against average is third behind HIll and Los Angeles Kings goaltender Cam Talbot.
Sportsbooks already have some ideas as to how this race could shake out.
Swayman has the sixth-highest odds to win the Vezina Trophy at +1000.
Hill, whose stats largely mirror his to start the season on the juggernaut Golden Knights, has the fourth-best odds at +850.
New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin, is between the two at No. 5 at +950 after starting the season 11-7-0 with a .904 save percentage and a 2.91 goals-against average.
Both of those totals are outside of the Top 20.
Talbot, whose 2.02 goals-against average is second in the league and .926 save percentage is tied for third with Rangers backup Jonathan Quick, is third in the race at +700.
Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is second with +500 odds to win the Vezina Trophy.
Hellebuyck is 15-6-1 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.41 goals-against average while leading the Jets to a Top 3 record in the Central Divison.
Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko is the surprise favorite to be named the best goaltender in the league by the NHL’s general manager, holding +340 odds to win the award.
Demko is 16-7-0 with a .921 save percentage and a 2.34 goals-against average on a red hot Canucks team.
They are destined to be contenders and he has been a big part of it.
However, if NHL general managers value counting stats as much as they did when Ullmark was named the Vezina Trophy winner last year, Swayman’s are among the top in the league.
Swayman and Hill are the only two names in that race that consistently rank near the Top 5 in the league in all major categories.
That was the case when Ullmark edged out New York Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin for the award last season despite Sorokin putting up an MVP-caliber effort behind a worse Islanders team.
Time will only tell if Swayman continues to be one of the top goaltenders in the league, but he has the numbers that voters typically like when they take this race into account.
It could come down to the wire between Swayman, Hill and one of the other candidates in the race.
Sorokin, sitting just behind Swayman with +1500 odds, could even leverage himself into the race after starting the year with an 8-4-7 record with a .912 save percentage and a 3.15 goals-against average.
It would require a turn-around from the team in front of him, but he has done his dampest to keep his team in it.
Time will only tell how that, and the stories of all of these goaltenders, will go.