Perhaps the most important position in all the NFHL is the goalie position, and most seasons the Vezina winner stands out from his peers. Many years there is a top group of about 5, but the past 2 seasons, two guys have separated some. Last year, it was Kelly Hrudey winning the Vezina by just 2 points over Hasek, the guy who had won the Vezina the previous two seasons.

Just how close were these two guys. Hrudey had 48-45 wins playing 1 fewer game. His GAA of 2.56 was just .09 points better and his SVPCT was .06 higher. These two have been near the top of their game for some time and also are on two great defensive teams which helps them tremendously.

So going into 1994, here at Straight Shooters we aren't going to reinvent the wheel or anything and go with these two as the top choice. We feel good that Kelly Hrudey has a great chance to repeat, as the Rockies got even better on defense by adding another great blue liner. The lower high quality shots, the better Hrudey's numbers will be. Hasek, now in Columbus with a city move, is also in similar situation. Now they do have a new GM, and also moved to the other conference. Those changes alone may help tip the scale the Hrudey in the end.

This season, though, we also feel that this Vezina fight might have more than just 2 guys in it this year.

John Vanbiesbrouck is one to watch out for to get into the conversation this year. He is on a very solid Detroit squad that has Cup aspirations this season. John will be needed and has made a run before in Anaheim.

Another to watch for is Mike Moffat. While he has been a starter for years around the league, this off season he went out and got a personal trainer to help his development. Also, the GM states he plans to focus on the defensive side more this year. Of course, he says that every year.

The last one to look at and perhaps the biggest sleeper is Kirk McLean in New Jersey. While this team was down for years, he was still putting up some solid numbers, and now that the GM has really got involved and changed the team in front of him, Kirk has kept his play up. Don't be surprised if he's not near the leader board all season long in save percentage.

While the offense continues to soar in the NFHL, it is the back of the tenders that SMJ Cups are realized. If you donít have a Vezina calibre guy, you won't get very far. Tthese are just facts, and at Straight Shooters thatís all we deal in.

Our pre-season winner is Kelly Hrudey.