Hockey World Blog

Hockey World Blog NHL Award Picks: Norris Trophy

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘offense gets the glory, but defense wins the game’? The best blue liners do it all: Make great outlet passes, help contribute offensively and on special teams, block shots, and defenseman usually get the most ice time of any skater. The Norris Trophy recognizes “the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.” This year’s finalists are Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins; Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators; and Shea Weber, Nashville Predators.

Here are Hockey World Blog’s picks for the Norris Trophy winner:

Chris: Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

Wow, just wow. What a year this kid had. Only 22-years-old and in his second season in the league, Karlsson posted 78 points and a plus-16 rating. He finished 11th in the league in points amongst all skaters, not just defenseman, beating out players like Marian Hossa, Joe Thornton and Zach Parise. Incredibly, only 28 of his points came on the power play. While he posted the lowest plus-minus rating of the three nominees, he led all three in time on ice per game, averaging just under 21 minutes each game. That’s an incredible amount of responsibility not only for a 22-year-old, but for someone only playing in his second full NHL season. All of these nominees are well deserved, but Karlsson definitely seemed to display the best all-around ability of any defenseman this season.

Eric: Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

Simply put, there was a reason I drafted him in fantasy. Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators put the team on the map this year. At just 22 years of age, Karlsson had a breakout year with 19 goals and 59 assists for 78 points. This count, 25 more points than the next best point producing defenseman. A respectable plus 16, he was a big reason the Senators made the playoffs. Going to be a tough selection, but considering all three finalist did not go too far in the playoffs, Karlsson should come out on top.

Matt: Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

Did Mike Green win a Norris Trophy with his exceptional offensive seasons? No. And just the same, Erik Karlsson will not impress voters enough to win a Norris Trophy for his efforts last season. Zdeno Chara, on the other hand, is an established shut down defenseman who excels at all times during the game – whether its even strength, power-play, or penalty kill. His 52 points in 79 games were good enough for sixth on the team, and he added an impressive 166 bone jarring hits to go along with 87 blocked shots on the season. Perhaps even more importantly, Chara finished a plus 33 on the season and was one of the main reasons why Boston only surrendered 202 goals – good enough for fourth best in the league – during a season in which Tim Thomas saw his numbers decline.

Eddie: Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

I’m taking Matt’s side on this. While Karlsson was solid and impressive as a 22-year-old, I feel he could be a victim of age and experience biases. The voters might want to see him have a similar season in the future before awarding him Norris Trophies. The recently-retired Nicklas Lidstrom was 31 when he won the first of his seven Norris Trophies. I like Chara because he posted the fourth-best point total among defensemen and the best +/- rating among blueliners with the pressure of being defending Stanley Cup champions and a shaky goalie behind him in Tim Thomas.

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