With the regular season wrapped up, and the playoffs underway, it’s time for the end of the year awards. The NHL is in the midst of the greatest era for defensemen in its history. Today we discuss the top 3 candidates for the Norris Trophy: given to the league’s best defenseman.
2022 Norris Trophy Predictions
The Norris Trophy was first awarded after the conclusion of the 1953-1954 season. Originally named after former Red Wings owner James E. Norris, the trophy is given to the top defenseman who best exemplifies the best all-around ability. Bobby Orr holds the record for most times won(8). The first defenseman to take home the award was Red Kelly of the Red Wings back in 1954. Last season, Adam Fox of the New York Rangers took home the award in only his second season in the NHL.
Roman Josi, Nashville Predators
Season Stats- GP (80: 24th in NHL) | G(23: 2nd in NHL) | PTS(96: 1st in NHL) | P\PG(1.20: 2nd in NHL)
This year, Roman Josi is coming off a career-high in goals and points is coming off a career-high in goals and points this year while leading the Nashville Predators toward a Wild Card berth. Josi is no stranger to being in the Norris Trophy conversation, as he took home the award back in 2020. What sets Josi’s season apart from others had by defensemen in recent years, is not only did he lead his team in points, but how close he was to hitting triple digits. The last NHL defenseman to hit the 100-point threshold was Brian Leetch(102) during the 1991-92 season. While most defensemen tend to slow down once they hit their 30s, it seems as those the Swiss-born blueliner only continues to get better with age, thus putting him in the conversation for the Norris Trophy once again.
Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche
Season Stats- GP( 77: T-55th in NHL) | G(28: 1st in NHL) | PTS(86: 2nd in NHL)| P\PG(1.12: 3rd in NHL)
Cale Makar continues to amaze hockey fans on almost a nightly basis. In only his third season, he has already solidified himself as one of the top defensemen in the league. His ability to dissect the opposing team’s defence with his skillful puck handling, while blazing down the ice, makes him a formidable foe. Makar has already collected some silverware in his young career, collecting the Calder Trophy. Regardless of if Makar takes home the Norris this season, he will be in the running for many years.
Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Season Stats- GP(82: T-1st in NHL) |G(20: 3rd in NHL) | PTS(85: 3rd in NHL) | P\PG(1.04: 4th in NHL)
What more can be said about Victor Hedman at this point? The durability, the leadership, and the consistency. Hedman has been a front runner on a yearly basis for the Norris Trophy since his breakout season in 2013-14. Hedman would later take the home Norris Trophy later on in 2017-18. The lurching Swede comes off a campaign in which he set a career-high in goals, as well as points scored. Hedman has led the Tampa Bay Lightning into another postseason journey in which the team looks to cement its legacy with a third-straight Stanley Cup. The size and speed of Hedman make him one of the most talented players on the ice at any given time.
Winner: Roman Josi
While some will, and most definitely can make the argument for either Cale Makar or Victor Hedman taking home the silverware, Roman Josi has demonstrated that he is head and shoulders above the other defenseman in the league. As much as this is an award for overall performance on both sides of the rink, it can not be overlooked how major of an accomplishment it is for a defenseman to lead his team in points during the regular season.
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Some honourable mentions would include last year’s winner Adam Fox and Kris Letang. Letang has continued to show the lead that he is very much still capable of leading the defence for a top contender. The 35-yr old posted 10 goals and 68 points on a Penguins’ squad that has had its fair share of the injury bug this season. Meanwhile, Adam Fox has continued his meteoric rise in the Big Apple by putting up 74 points, finishing fourth in the league in that category. Both these players have demonstrated mastery of their position while still falling short of the top three on this list, only proving how deep the Norris Trophy race is.