Hellebuyck is expected to earn a long-term contract from the Jets, Sportsnet reports. No surprise here. Hellebuyck is a finalist for the 2018 Vezina Trophy following a breakout campaign comprised of a 44-11-9 record, 2.36 GAA and .924 save percentage from the regular season. The American netminder guided the Jets all the way to the conference finals, though he ran into trouble against a Golden Knights club playing out a fairytale narrative in its inaugural campaign. Hellebuyck inked a one-year, $2.25 million contract to stay in Winnipeg last summer, but it's safe to say he'll command a serious pay raise upon agreeing to his next deal.
Hellebuyck turned away 30 of 32 shots Sunday in a Game 5 series loss to the Golden Knights. It's hard to fault Hellebuyck for the goals that he allowed in this one. First, Alex Tuch created a turnover in the Winnipeg zone and whipped around for a beautiful wrist shot, and then Ryan Reeves deflected a long shot from defenseman Luca Sbisa that bounced off the crossbar and fell into the cage behind Hellebuyck. While this obviously wasn't the outcome the Michigan native was hoping for, it's worth noting that he was stellar throughout the playoffs based on a 2.36 GAA and .922 save percentage through 17 games -- numbers that were nearly identical to the peripherals that Hellebuyck posted in the regular season. Winnipeg's fifth-round (130th overall) draft selection from 2012 is firmly entrenched as a No. 1 fantasy goaltender heading into the 2018-19 campaign.
Hellebuyck will man the crease Sunday during Game 5 against Vegas, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports. Hellebuyck and his Jets are backed up against the wall down 3-1 to Vegas. After a great showing against Nashville with a 2.44 GAA and .929 save percentage, the Michigan native is struggling in the Western Conference finals, with those numbers worsening to 2.81 and .897, respectively. The 25-year-old netminder will need to catch fire immediately if Winnipeg has a chance at coming back from the 3-1 hole.
Hellebuyck yielded three goals on 29 shots during Friday's 3-2 loss to the Golden Knights. Hellebuyck, who will be 25 years old Saturday, allowed a go-ahead goal by Reilly Smith with 6:58 left in the third period, and Winnipeg was unable to recover. This was the third straight game Hellebuyck allowed three goals on less than 30 shots, and now he'll be facing elimination at home Sunday. The Michigan native marked a .927 save percentage and two shutouts through the first two series, but he sports an .897 save percentage in the conference finals.
Hellebuyck stopped 26 of the 29 shots he faced in Game 3, dropping a 4-2 decision to the Golden Knights on Wednesday. With virtually everyone not named Mark Scheifele struggling on offense for the Peggers in Game 3, Hellebuyck needed to be all but perfect to steal a win. Instead, he misplayed the puck behind his net to allow James Neal an open goal, sapping any momentum the Jets might have gained from Scheifele's first goal. Hellebuyck has been acceptable in this series, but if the Jets' offense isn't firing, as has been the case since the first period of Game 1, acceptable won't be good enough for either his team or yours.
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Last 7 Games
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