Fresh off a series sweep of the Canucks in which he stopped 93.7% of Vancouver's shots, allowing just eight goals over the course of the four games, Antti Niemi learned today that he's one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender alongside the Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky and the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist.
Posting a .924 save percentage and four shutouts in 43 games, Niemi compiled the best regular season of his young NHL career in 2013, representing the only reason the Sharks won games on many nights throughout February and March. He was also key to the Sharks' penalty kill ascending from 29th in the league last season to 6th this year.
He also almost certainly won't win the trophy, partially because general managers historically skew East when casting their ballots and partially because a more compelling case can be made for Bobrovsky even though his team failed to make the playoffs. Still, Niemi becomes the first Shark to be named a Vezina finalist since Evgeni Nabokov in 2008 and I think he'll be fine settling for a different postseason award anyway.