Blackhawks for the James Norris Memorial Trophy: Best Defenseman
While reputation seems to factor into the Norris Trophy discussion way more than it should, it’s sad to say that last year’s Conn Smythe winner, Duncan Keith, is more than likely not in consideration for the award this year. Guys like Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, John Klingberg and Brent Burns are being strongly considered this year, and deservedly so. I say that reputation factors in more than it should because, while Doughty has had a solid year for the Kings, he hasn’t been the best defender this season. He has, however, been one of the top three or five defenders in the NHL of the last five years. Is that enough to justify the mindset of, “Well, this is Doughty’s time to finally get his Norris, right?” No. It’s not an award for best defenseman of the last few years, it’s the best defenseman of the year. Singular.
- Front-runner: Erik Karlsson
- Contenders: Drew Doughty, John Klingberg, Brent Burns
- In the mix: Kris Letang, PK Subban, Dustin Byfuglien
Had Keith not missed a chunk of games early this season due to a knee injury, he would probably be right there in the discussion because, on a Blackhawks team that has been spotty on the back-end all year, Keith has been his normal, always reliable self playing 57 minutes a night. Yes, that is an exaggeration of Keith’s actual 25;30 average ice time numbers, which rank him ninth in the NHL among defenders. Keith ranks top 15 in the league among defensemen in points, points per game and powerplay points, but that is far from enough for Norris consideration.
It looks as if Karlsson should be the winner this year, but people are riding the Doughty train to the end of the tracks it seems. We shall see how this pans out.
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