The NHL season is just about halfway over, so we’re using the moment to pick our faves for end-of-season trophy winners. The NHL Awards are messy and infrequently go to the players who actually deserve to win, so our picks reflect who should win the award, not necessarily the traditional front-runner. Feel free to agree or disagree with the picks, but these are the correct answers.
This time: The James Norris Memorial Trophy, a.k.a. Best Defenseman.
No NHL season would be complete without hot takes that Karlsson is off to a slow start (he’s not) followed by EK65 blowing the league out of the water. Karlsson is currently on a 14-game point streak, and he became the fifth defender in NHL history to post an assist in 14 or more appearances (Hall-of-Famers Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, Brian Leetch, and Phil Housley are the others). Karlsson is the fourth highest scoring defenseman in the NHL with 41 points. The Swede has the ability to control games, and he has a 60.2 shot-attempt percentage, a 57.3 scoring-chance percentage, a 56.9 high-danger-chance percentage, and a 53.0 goal percentage. Karlsson is a generational defensive talent, and if his point/goal continue to match his expected point/goal production, he should win the Norris Trophy.
Erik Karlsson became the 13th different defenseman in NHL history – and sixth since 1990-91 – to record at least one point in 14 or more consecutive appearances within a season. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/bp7QItAbLP
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 9, 2019
The Flames are very good this year, and 35-year-old Giordano keeps chugging along as the backbone of their blue line. Giordano has a 55.5 shot-attempt percentage, a 62.1 goal percentage, a 55.1 scoring-chance percentage, and a 52.4 high-danger-chance percentage while logging over 700 minutes of ice time. Giordano is also the third highest scoring defenseman in the league with six goals and 34 assists, and Norris winners need to rack up points for consideration.
John Carlson finished fifth in Norris Trophy last season after setting a career high in points. He did not deserve to win the Norris then, but fast forward a year, and Carlson has improved every aspect of his game while maintaining his electric scoring rate. Carlson leads the league with a 16.1 goals-above-replacement value, a metric that measures how many goals a player adds compared to a replacement level player. He has also rebounded from a shaky defensive start to the season with a 51.8 shot-attempt percentage, a 52.4 scoring-chance percentage, and a 64.6 goals percentage. Carlson still surrenders too many high danger chances to opponents, but he deserves to be in the Norris conversation.
Healthy night offensively for John Carlson; +31/-14 in even-strength shots, of which he took nine himself including one off the pipe.
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) January 7, 2019
Who’s your pick for the Norris?
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