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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 Writers’ 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.
Cale Makar not only won the Norris Trophy last season but was also the winner of the Conn Smythe award - deeming him the most valuable player in the playoffs during the Colorado Avalanche’s Stanley Cup-winning season.
The 24-year-old is the favorite to win the award in back-to-back seasons.
Despite having played in the fewest amount of games compared to anyone else on this list, Makar is still within the top-5 this season when it comes to both even-strength and power play points and he is currently leading all defensemen in ice-time, averaging just shy of 27-minutes per game.
One of the few bright spots for the Buffalo Sabres this season, Rasmus Dahlin is in the running to win his first Norris Trophy this season if he stays on track.
In 30-games played this season, Dahlin is third among defenders with 10 goals, second in assists with 37, and has an impressive plus-16 rating despite the struggles of the team around him.
Dahlin has been crucial on special teams for the Sabres as well. He leads all defensemen with 20 power play points, ranks third for average ice time, and has two game-winning goals.
Drafted first-overall in 2018, Dahlin is still only 22-years-old.
Just 33-games into this season and Erik Karlsson has already surpassed his points total from last year. He currently leads all defensemen in the NHL with 41 points.
Despite being a -6, Karlsson, who has struggled since his 2018 trade from the Ottawa Senators to the San Jose Sharks, now appears to be back in the top form that won him his first Norris Trophy in 2015.
He also leads all d-men with a 1.24 points-per-game average, 10 even-strength goals, 29 even-strength points and is within the top-10 when it comes to average ice-time, shots on net, and power play points.
With more games played this season than any other player on this list, the Rangers’ Adam Fox looks to win the second Norris Trophy of his career, having won the award following the 2021 season.
So far this season, Fox has put up 34 points and has a plus-11 rating. He averages over a point per game and 12 of his points this season have come on the power play. He is also tied with Josh Morrissey and Erik Karlsson with three game-winning goals this season.
At 27 years old, Josh Morrissey is the second oldest player on this list behind Erik Karlsson.
Drafted 13th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2013 NHL entry draft, Morrissey put up career-high numbers last season in goals, assists, and points.
Morrissey currently leads all d-men with 31 assists this season and ranks third in average points-per-game. He sits within the top-5 when it comes to power play points and game-winning goals despite averaging less ice-time per game than any other player on this list.
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