Top 5 James Norris Memorial Trophy Candidates 2020 - Predictions
Even though NHL has been suspended, for now, we’re still looking forward to hockey events. Here we take a look at some of the league’s best defensemen expected to be nominated as finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy by season’s end (whenever that will be).
Introduced in 1954, the James Norris Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the defenseman deemed the best at his position as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association.
It is named after James Norris, a long-time legendary owner of the Detroit Red Wings franchise. Since its inception, the Norris Trophy has been awarded 61 times to 26 different players.
Coincidentally, the first-ever winner of the award, named after a man long associated with the Red Wings, was a Red Wing himself. In 1954, Detroit defenseman Red Kelly became the first player in history to win the award.
Last season saw Calgary Flames’ captain Mark Giordano take home the award after a season that saw him register 104 points and finish with a plus-42. It was his first Norris award.
1. John Carlson, Washington Capitals
It’s a good time to be John Carlson. Not only does the Washington defenseman lead all NHL d-men in points, but he ranks within the league’s top-15 overall with 73 points this season. More impressively is that he leads the Capitals in points – a team that boasts T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alexander Ovechkin.
He has already surpassed his points total from last season.
Carlson finished fourth in Norris voting last season and it’s as if he took it personally. He has a 1.11 points per game average, leads all defensemen in power-play points and game-winning goals. He has an 8.2 shooting percentage as well this season.
The offense is nice, but this is the Norris trophy after all, and Carlson has not let his goal-scoring touch interfere with his defensive responsibilities. Carlson has 52 hits, 40 takeaways, and 103 blocked shots. He also averages 1.5 minutes of penalty killing time per game. He has gone from finishing outside of the final three last season to being the Norris Memorial favorite this season.
2. Roman Josi, Nashville Predators
Despite Nashville’s struggles as a whole this season, and after dealing P.K. Subban away during the off-season, Roman Josi still hasn’t seemed to skip a beat. Another offensive defenseman, only Carlson has more points than Josi this season out of all d-men. He averages just under a point per game with an average of 0.94. He has 21 power-play points and one game-winning goal this season. He leads all defensemen in shots on goal.
Josi leads all defensemen on this list in ice-time, averaging 25:51 minutes per game. Only Ottawa’s Thomas Chabot averages more ice-time than Josi this season.
The Swiss goalie has 51 hits this season as well as 33 takeaways. He has also blocked 105 shots. He is also averaging just over two minutes of penalty killing time per game.
Roman Josi has never finished higher than fifth in Norris Trophy voting.
3. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Magic happens when Victor Hedman is on the ice. His 53 points this season ranks him as the third-best point-producing defenseman this season and his plus-minus rating of plus-24 leads all defensemen on this list. He has a 0.83 points per game average, 21 power-play points, and two game-winning goals.
Hedman is one of the team’s best penalty killers, if not the best, averaging 2:21 minutes per game. He throws the body plenty, registering 71 hits this season. Hedman also has 47 takeaways and 98 blocked shots.
Hedman is no stranger to Norris Trophy voting as he won the award, his first, following the 2017-18 season.
4. Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
A big reason that the Blues are continuing to be so good after winning the Stanley Cup last season is because they struck with the same roster heading into this season.
A big part of their success last season came down to their defense. Enter captain Alex Pietrangelo, who is continuing to excel at his position. In 66 games this season, Pietrangelo has 49 points and is currently a plus-9. He has 22 power-play points, one shorthanded point, and three game-winners. He is also one of only four defensemen to have more than 200 shots this season.
Averaging well over 20 minutes per game, the St. Louis captain has 42 hits, 43 takeaways, and has blocked 86 shots. He averages just below two minutes of penalty killing time per game and also receives over three minutes per game on the power play.
Pietrangelo has yet to break into the top-three of Norris trophy voting, his highest finish being fourth-overall after the 2011-12 season.
5. Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche
What a season for this young star. Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche is in the running for not only the Norris trophy this season but the Calder Memorial as well. That’s right – this has been Makar’s first NHL season. Due to early-season injuries, Makar has played less games this season than any other d-man on this list but has still managed to score 47 points and helped the team stay competitive during their stretch in which Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen were injured.
He has 17 power-play points, four game-winning goals, and a 10.1 shooting percentage – the highest on this list by far.
The young star has 44 hits, 33 takeaways, and has 46 blocked shots to his name, all while averaging over 20 minutes of ice-time per game as a rookie.
Dark Horse: Tony DeAngelo, New York Rangers
Like Roman Josi, Tony DeAngelo is playing on a struggling team but is somehow looking amazing while doing so.
DeAngelo rounds out the top-five when it comes to points among defensemen as he has registered 49 points this season, 18 of them coming on the power play.
He has three game-winning goals, two of them in overtime. He also has a 9.5 shooting percentage.
All this while having the lowest average ice-time on this list. He has 54 blocked shots and 45 hits this season with 16 takeaways.