As we near the Friday/Saturday night split awards presentations, we continue on with the awarding of our own awards. We have already awarded the Vezina, Calder, Selke, Lady Byng, Messier, GM of the Year and Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Today we honour the best of the blueliners.
THE JAMES NORRIS MEMORIAL TROPHY
AWARDED TO: “The defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.”– NHL.com
VOTED ON BY: The Professional Hockey Writer’s Association
AND THE NOMINEES ARE:
KRISTOPHER LETANG – As heralded as the Penguins forward unit is, Kris Letang is the engine that drives the Pittsburgh machine. Letang finished tied for first in the league in points, despite playing 7 fewer games than the player he was tied with (missing 13 in total). He led all defensemen in assists and was 7th among NHL blueliners in time on ice. He was also among the top 10 in plus/minus and took only 8 minutes in penalties.
P.K. SUBBAN – After holding out for the first couple of weeks of the season, P.K. Subban returned to the Canadiens lineup and made an immediate impact. He tied Letang for the league lead in points for a defenseman, and trailed only Mike Green among all blueliners in goals with 11. His 26 power play points was the best among all defensemem.
RYAN SUTER – In his first year with the Wild after signing a massive contract in the off-season, Ryan Suter got off to a slow start. However, he picked up his game to a higher level as the season went on, and he became one of the best defenseman in the league. He was a force at both ends of the ice, leading all defensemen in time on ice and TOI per game. He finished third behind Subban and Letang in defensemen scoring.
AND THE WINNER IS…
SenShot selects Kris Letang as the winner of the Norris Trophy. He won by a 2-1 margin, with Subban getting the other vote. The deciding factor for me was the large reliance on power play scoring for Subban. Almost 70% of Subban’s points were with the man advantage, and while you want an all-around defenseman to be adept on the power play, he also needs to be effective at even strength. Letang led all defensemen in even strength points. Letang is the closest comparison to Erik Karlsson in the league, and that isn’t bad.