Connor Hellebuyck hopes Stanley Cup is what comes next
The continued development of Connor Hellebuyck has been fun to watch. And now, coming off a season where the 27-year old won his first Vezina award, he hopes another trophy is in his future.
"Now the only one that matters is the Stanley Cup," Hellebuyck said. "I'd love to win another Vezina, that would be great, but it's time. I'm in my prime, this team's in its prime, it's time to win a Stanley Cup and every day has to be building toward that."
Hellebuyck had an excellent year last season, finishing with a 31-21-5 record, .922 save percentage and a 2.57 goals-against average.
Playing in the NHL’s all-Canadian division, a road to a Stanley Cup will be difficult for the Jets. After starting 56 games for Winnipeg last year, Hellebuyck hopes to land around 40 starts in a condensed 56-game season.
"We've briefly talked about it and I'm a guy that likes to play a lot so I would like to get 40-45 games, but who knows what's going to happen," Hellebuyck said.
"I could get even hotter and I can go even more, or I'll be very hot and could be in a playoff spot and then we could start riding [Laurent Brossoit] a bit to give me some rest. So it depends on how the season plays out, but I would like to be somewhere in the 40-45 range.”
How well Hellebuyck performs in the coming season could very well dictate which direction the Jets seasons goes. But Hellebuyck knows that if the Jets are to win a Stanley Cup, every single player in the dressing room will need to be at their best.
“I think everyone on this team needs to feel they are bringing their best version of themselves every day, and continuing to improve that best version. When Stanley Cup time comes around, we should have a good unit built together,” he said.
“Because at the end of the day, that’s how it works. If you bring the best version of yourself and it doesn’t have to be every single day, but if you bring it the majority of the days out there and the guys that might be tired, a little more fatigued, then you start picking up the slack and vice versa.”
No goalie last season saw more rubber than Connor Hellebuyck who saw a league high 1795 shots against.
As the Jets blue line was a work in progress all season long due to trades, injuries and unsuspected retirements, Hellebuyck liked the progress they made as a unit with each passing day.
“Well I saw them last year improve day-by-day and as we grew as a group our fundamentals got so much better. Our trust in each other got so much better throughout the season,” he said. “I can already tell in this training camp that once we get that trust, we’re going to be a great unit again. Not saying it’s not there, but there’s a whole new trust level that I know these guys and I can get to.”
Seeing a ton of rubber in training camp in 2021 won’t be an easy one thanks to the lack of exhibition games and very quick transition from the start of camp to the beginning of the season.
The Jets spent held a brief scrimmage on Wednesday, a chance for Hellebuyck to see as many pucks in one sitting as he will in the days leading up to the season opener on Jan. 14.
“It’s nice to get into a scrimmage just to get the feel and a little bit of a flow, see where a little bit of the panic comes in so that you can kind of train that out of the game,” he said.
“I just like getting a lot of shots, seeing a lot of rubber so I don’t ever have that panic and can remain patient in the net. I think that’s my biggest key for this training camp is to get my patience back to where it is at the end of the season and I think that’s very crucial for where I need to be.”