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NHL Awards: Igor Shesterkin Finishes Third in Hart Trophy Race as League MVP of 2021-22 Season

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game Five Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

Having just won the Vezina as the NHL’s best goalie which you can read about here, Shesterkin was then waiting to hear the results of his other nomination, the Hart Trophy awarded to the League’s MVP. Simply put his nomination for this award speaks volumes of the dominant season Shesterkin had, but ultimately although well deserved, he fell short of winning the Hart this year.

The NHL has announced that Shesterkin was third in the race for the Hart Trophy. The Rangers’ goaltender picked up 24 first-place votes, 26 second-place votes, 41 third-place votes, and 738 points in total to finish behind Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid.

Regardless of the league’s results in the Hart Trophy race, Shesterkin has been the Ranger’s MVP in both the regular season and in their exciting postseason run. At the end of the first-round matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Shesterkin was being interviewed and asked how he dealt with the jeering from the Pittsburgh crowd. During this series, the young netminder looked human for the first time since he’s been with the Rangers, and because of it was taunted while playing in Pittsburgh. He gave us a quote that will surely be part of Rangers lore for eternity, “when they tried to say Igor, I just say, ‘OK.’” Words from the Czar himself, even Shesterkin’s mental focus is elite. However, while he may say “OK”, Shesterkin has been anything but.

When looking at SV% for a goaltending season in the NHL, Shesterkin’s 2021-22 ranks 7th all time. This is right between Carey Price and Tim Thomas’ Hart winning seasons. So despite what anyone may tell you, Igor deserves to be a part of this conversation. It’s hard to quantify just how incredible his season truly was, so from the mind of HockeyStatMiner himself, you can get a visual below. Notice how much higher Shesterkin is than any other goalie listed here? This graph measures expected goals and the number of goals allowed, it then plots each goalie listed from the last 15 years on where their performance falls.

Shesterkin being so much higher than anyone else points out how many more difficult or high chance saves he is making when compared to any of his peers. His ability to not only dominate in the crease but to play the puck and at times act as a third defender, making plays and helping the team start rushes and catching the opposition off guard, there’s no one else in the league with this game breaking ability who can do it so easily and so often as he can. If there is any goalie with a chance to win the Hart in the near future it is certainly Igor.

While not taking home the Hart Trophy this year, there is bound to be at least one winning season in his future. The ultimate question for fans of Igor is what will he do first? Win the Hart Trophy or score a goal?