In this year’s toned-down edition of the NHL Awards, there is no live event. Instead, there was a broadcast on the NHL network and NHL.com last night, where some of the league’s top trophies were handed out. The Awards conclude tonight with the remainder of the hardware being awarded just before Game Two of the Stanley Cup Finals. Today we take a look at the candidates for the Norris Trophy.
The Norris is awarded every year to the top “defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position”
P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens
P.K. Subban’s year was not one without controversy. As usual, the Canadiens forward got into hot water with not only his opponents, but his teammates, by not knowing when to keep his mouth shut. Subban also did not start his season until he finally came to an agreement over contract length, with former Blackhawk assistant GM Marc Bergevin. However, once he got on the ice, he became one of the best defensemen in the league, leading that position with 11 goals, and 27 helpers for 38 points in 42 games. He was a solid +10 on the year, and was on the ice an average of 23:14 a game.
Subban undoubtedly played with greater maturity, and caused less of a disruption, once he signed his new contract. However, some controversy that he could not control surfaced earlier this week, when reports were leaked that Subban had in fact won this Norris trophy in only his third season in the league. If these rumors are in fact true, this is a big blow to the security of the voting process.
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild
Suter, along with former Devil Zach Parise, signed matching free agent contracts with the Wild last off-season. In his first season with the Wild, he put 32 points on the board – 4 goals, and 28 assists, even though Suter did not light the lamp until his 22nd game of the campaign. Just as former Norris winner and current Blackhawk Duncan Keith did, Suter led the league in ice time, averaging 27:16 a game. He also had a 40+ minute game in Game One of the first round matchup against the Hawks, where the Blackhawks took the victory in overtime. There were questions of how Suter would handle not playing alongside perennial Norris favourite Shea Weber in Nashville, but he seemed to handle it just fine. He was one of the key reasons the Wild snuck in to the playoffs in 2013.
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
Kris Letang has made a name for himself as an offensive defenseman in the last couple of years, and it held true in 2013, where he tied Subban for the league lead in points by a defenseman with 38. He led all defensemen in assists with 33, and he was +16 on the season. He led all Penguins in ice time with an average of 25:28 a game. The most remarkable part about Letang’s year is that he did all this in only 35 games, due to a rash of injuries. He averaged over a point per game, something that his fellow finalists could not do. Letang performed very consistently for the Pens this year, and other than the injuries, it was a great season for the 26-year old.
All this preview could be for naught if the inital reports of Subban winning the Norris are true. Letang would have won the award at his current pace if he was healthy, but 35 games will not be enough to take home the title this year. The mass opinion is mostly leaning towards Suter, even though Subban is offensively gifted and showed new maturity, he still has some room to make up before he is on the same level as the Wild defenseman.
Tune in to the NHL Network and NHL.com tonight before Game Two to see who takes home the title!
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