By Ian Oland
The NHL announced that John Carlson is a finalist for the Norris Trophy on Monday. The Norris Trophy is “awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s top defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.” Nashville’s Roman Josi and Tampa’s Victor Hedman were also voted into the top three.
According to Mike Vogel, Carlson is only the fifth Capitals player in team history to be voted a finalist for the Norris Trophy and could join Rod Langway as the only other player in franchise player to win it (1983 and 1984). Most recently, Mike Green was named a finalist in back-to-back years (2009, 2010), but did not win either season.
One step closer‼️
Congrats Carly on being named a finalist for the Norris Trophy.#Johnny4Norris details:https://t.co/HYf3jnbHo4 pic.twitter.com/d5Cvc3V6hn
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 20, 2020
During the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, Carlson tied a career-high with 15 goals and set new career-highs in assists (60) and points (75), doing so despite playing in only 69 games.
The Capitals defenseman got off to an extremely hot start to the season, setting a franchise record for points (23) in a month for a defenseman. Carlson’s seven goals and 16 assists in 14 October games led the NHL to name him its top player that month.
During the season, Carlson became the Capitals’ new franchise leader in points for a defenseman and was named to the 2020 All-Star Game. He was also named the NHL’s first star of the week for the first week in December.
Towards the second half of the season, however, Carlson scuffled defensively and was a liability at times as the Capitals swooned. From December 23 until the end of the regular season on March 12, Carlson, according to Natural Stat Trick, was on the ice for three goals or more in a game seven different times, including four goals allowed three times.
While many believe Carlson winning the trophy is a foregone conclusion, recent voting from The Athletic and NHL.com suggest otherwise. Athletic writers voted for Roman Josi overwhelmingly as the top defenseman in the league beating out Carlson 63 percent to 24 percent. While in an NHL.com poll, Carlson narrowly edged out Josi in points, 80 to 77.
The Capitals campaigned hard for Carlson to get his due throughout the season. Alex Ovechkin even coined the hashtag #Johnny4Norris after Carlson became only the fourth defenseman ever to hit the 20-point plateau before the end of October.
John Carlson (@JohnCarlson74) for the Norris Trophy? 🤔
Alex Ovechkin (@ovi8) says let the campaigning begin. pic.twitter.com/78NGB35GqH
— NHL (@NHL) October 23, 2019
The 2020 NHL Awards were originally scheduled for June 18 in Las Vegas but were postponed March 25.
Three worthy finalists for the Norris Trophy. Who are you taking between @JohnCarlson74, Victor Hedman and Roman Josi (@rjosi90)? #NHLAwards @NHLdotcom has more ➡️ https://t.co/nRtAG3ZLGZ pic.twitter.com/LSesJkrqXA
— NHL (@NHL) July 20, 2020
More from the Capitals:
John Carlson Named a Finalist for Norris Trophy
NHL’s top offensive defenseman vying to win team’s third Norris Trophy and first since Rod Langway in 1982-83 and 1983-84
ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Hockey League announced today that Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson is one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy, which is presented annually to the top defenseman in the NHL. Carlson joins Nashville’s Roman Josi and Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman as the three finalists. Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Norris Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters announced as finalists.
Carlson is aiming for his first career Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman. Carlson could become the second player in franchise history to claim the prestigious award since Rod Langway in 1982-83 and 1983-84. Carlson’s 75 points in 69 games this season (15g, 60a) led all defensemen, 10 points ahead Josi and 20 points ahead of Hedman, who finished second and third among defensemen in points, respectively. Carlson is the eighth defenseman in NHL history to hold a 10 point lead over the next highest scoring defenseman and a 20 point lead over the third highest scoring defenseman and the first since Erik Karlsson (Ottawa) in 2011-12. Karlsson won the Norris Trophy that season.
Carlson’s 1.09 points per game this season were the highest total by a defenseman since Ray Bourque, Al MacInnis and Sergei Zubov in the 1993-94 season. As the highest scoring defenseman, Bourque won the Norris Trophy that season. Only 13 other defensemen in NHL history have recorded at least 1.09 points per game in a single season after playing 69 games. Nine of the 13 defensemen have won the Norris Trophy in their career. Carlson was the only defenseman this season to average 1.09 points per game. The last time only one defenseman averaged at least 1.09 points per game in a single season was 1988-89 (Paul Coffey: 113 points in 75 games). He became one of five defensemen to reach the 70 point mark in 59 or fewer games in the last 30 years.
This season, Carlson was on pace for 89 points over an 82-game season. Only nine defensemen in NHL history have recorded 89 points in a season (Coffey: eight times; Bobby Orr: six times; Bourque: four times; Denis Potvin: three times; MacInnis: twice; Phil Housley, Brian Leetch, Gary Suter and Zubov: each once). Carlson’s 89 points would have been the highest by a defenseman since Bourque and Zubov in 1993-94 (Bourque: 91 points; Zubov: 89 points).
Carlson’s 60 assists led all NHL defensemen and ranked fourth among all players in the NHL (Leon Draisaitl: 67; Connor McDavid: 63; Artemi Panarin: 63). Carlson is the first defenseman to rank fourth or better in the NHL in assists in a single season since Hedman in 2016-17. He became the 10th defenseman since 1979-80 to record 60 assists within his first 67 games. Over the last twenty seasons, only three other defensemen have recorded at least 60 assists in a season (Nicklas Lidstrom, twice, 2005-06 and 2007-08: 64 and 60 assists, respectively; Erik Karlsson, 2015-16: 66 assists; Brent Burns, 2018-19: 67 assists). All three players have won the Norris Trophy in their careers. Carlson was on pace for 71 assists prior to the suspension of the season, which would have been the highest total by a defenseman since 1993-94.
According to The Point powered by SPORT LOGiQ, Carlson ranked second in the NHL in completed stretch passes (258) and third in blocked passes (466). Carlson ranked ahead of both Josi and Hedman in blocked shots per 60 minutes of play (Carlson: 3.81; Hedman: 3.70; Josi: 3.64), ahead of Josi in hits per 60 minutes of play (Carlson: 1.94; Josi: 1.75) and takeaways per 60 minutes of play (Carlson: 1.48; Josi: 1.14).
Carlson led all defensemen in game-winning goals (6), two shy of the NHL record set by Oliver Ekman-Larsson in 2015-16. He ranked seventh in the NHL in time on ice (1,699:14) and led all defensemen in time on ice per shift (0:58).
Here’s the NHL’s release:
NEW YORK (July 20, 2020) – John Carlson of the Washington Capitals, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators are the three finalists for the 2019-20 James Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded “to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position,” the National Hockey League announced today.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association submitted ballots for the Norris Trophy after the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be revealed during the Conference Finals, with the exact date, format and time to be determined.
Following are the finalists for the Norris Trophy, in alphabetical order:
John Carlson, Washington Capitals
Carlson helped the Capitals to a first-place finish in the Metropolitan Division for a fifth consecutive season by leading all NHL defensemen in scoring by a 10-point margin, tallying a team- and career-high 15-60–75 in 69 games. He became the NHL’s fifth blueliner in the last 30 years to reach the 50-assist mark in 54 games or fewer and first since Sergei Zubov (NYR) in 1993-94. Despite a shortened regular season his 60 assists were the most by a Capitals defenseman since Scott Stevens recorded a franchise-record 61 in 1988-89 and his 75 points were just six fewer than Larry Murphy’s record of 23-58–81 set in 1986-87. The 30-year-old native of Natick, Mass., is a Norris finalist for the first time and looks to become the first Capitals player to win the trophy since Rod Langway had back-to-back triumphs in 1982-83 and 1983-84.
Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Hedman ranked third among defensemen in scoring with 11-44–55 in 66 games, marking his fourth consecutive season with 40+ assists and 50+ points. During the Lightning’s scorching 23-2-1 run from Dec. 23 through Feb. 17, Hedman posted an even-or-plus rating in 22 of the 26 games (+29 in all) and played an average of 25:43 per contest. Highlights in that span included four assists on Dec. 28 vs. MTL (5-4 W), tying a franchise record for defensemen, and logging a career-high 32:12 on Feb. 15 vs. PHI (5-3 W). The 29-year-old Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, native is the first Norris Trophy finalist in four consecutive seasons since countryman Nicklas Lidstrom with the Detroit Red Wings was selected from 2005-06 through 2008-09. Hedman became the first Lightning player to capture Norris honors in 2017-18 and finished third in 2016-17 and 2018-19.
Roman Josi, Nashville Predators
Josi led the Predators in scoring with 16-49–65 in 69 games, joining Carlson as the only defenseman to top his club in points this season. Josi’s 65 points set a franchise record for defensemen, surpassing the 61 he had recorded in 2015-16, and his 16 goals marked a career high. The Nashville captain’s 12-game point streak (7-13–20) from Dec. 16-Jan. 9 set another franchise record for defensemen and was the longest by any blueliner since Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere (15 games) in 2015-16. Josi ranked among the top three League defenders in several categories, including shots (1st, 260), points (2nd, 65), goals (t-2nd, 16), assists (2nd, 49) and average time on ice (3rd, 25:47). The 30-year-old Bern, Switzerland, native is a first-time Norris Trophy finalist and is vying to become the first winner in Predators history.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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