Last Word on Hockey’s Mid-Season Awards: Norris Trophy

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SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 05: Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks looks on during the game against the Minnesota Wild at SAP Center on January 5, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)

We’ve now reached the halfway point for all teams in the National Hockey League. There has been exciting storylines and great individual performances during the season. Through these contenders for awards have started to emerge. Last Word on Hockey has made their picks for each, and here are the Norris Trophy choices. The Vezina Trophy was the last in the series.

Last Word on Hockey’s Mid-Season Awards: Norris Trophy

Winner

Brent Burns

This may have been one of the easiest decisions, in regards to picking the mid-season award winners. Burns has been fantastic this season for the San Jose Sharks. On top of being great in his defensive zone, he’s also contributing a great deal to the other end of the ice.

Burns currently finds himself sitting atop the Sharks for points, and sixth in the entire league. His 17 goals and 44 points are both good for first among all defenseman in the league, as well as his 27 assists being behind only Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman.

On top of those stats, he’s also contributing a good deal towards the goal on the man advantage. During the 2016-17 season Burns has four goals and 12 points on the man advantage. Not a bad contribution, and another reason why he has been picked as the winner of the Norris Trophy.

Second Place

Victor Hedman

Hedman is another obvious inclusion in this list, and if not for Burns he would make a strong case to win the Norris Trophy. Hedman Currently sits on 38 points for the season, with 18 of them coming on the powerplay. He has been a critical piece to the Lightning this season, and will continue to be if they want to make the playoffs.

The 31 assists that Hedman has on the season is tops among defenseman, and third in the league behind only Patrick Kane and Connor McDavid. And to speak to his effectiveness on the man advantage, his 18 points on the powerplay are good for third in the entire NHL.

Hedman has been rewarded for his stellar play this season with an All-Star Game selection, yet another key to a resume making a case for winning the Norris Trophy. As hard as it is to believe, he’ll have to step up his already impressive point production if he wants to take over the top spot in voting come the end of the 2016-17 season.

Third Place

Erik Karlsson

Karlsson seems to always find his way onto the list of contenders for the Norris Trophy, and rightly so. The Senators defenseman won the trophy after the 2014-15 season, and he was on the shortlist again last season, losing to Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings.

After putting up 82 points in 82 games in the 2015-16 season, Karlsson was going to be hard-pressed to match that productivity for a second straight season. Despite being off that point-per-game pace, he’s still sitting pretty at 35 points in 41 games, which is good for third among all defenseman.

No one would ever say that Karlsson isn’t having a fantastic season, but the play from both Hedman and Burns is just too much to pass up for the top two spots. As always, Karlsson deserves consideration in the Norris Trophy talk, but at this time he wouldn’t be the winner.

Honourable Mention

Seth Jones

Jones has been a calming presence in the back end for the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he’s gotten himself an All-Star Game nod in the process. Unlike the top three defenseman selected above him, he’s not known as an elite scoring defenseman. His 20 points on the season ranks at 35th for all blueliners.

The analytics also show just how solid Jones has been for the Blue Jackets this season, as his 50.93 CF% ranks third among their defenseman. This normally wouldn’t be the most impressive line of argument, but the fact that it’s on the leagues third best defense makes a strong case (2.24 GA/GP).

Jones is composed on the puck, and fantastic in his defensive zone. But without the same type of point production as Burns, Hedman, or Karlsson it’s highly unlikely he would ever win the Norris Trophy over them.

Shea Weber

In his first season with the Montreal Canadiens Shea Weber has proven those who said the Predators won the P.K. Subban trade wrong. His 28 points on the season is currently sixth among all defenseman. His play on the man advantage, with 15 points on the powerplay, is also top five among defenseman.

Despite his strong play on both ends of the ice, and seamless transition to a new organization, he hasn’t done enough to warrant moving ahead of players like Burns, Karlsson, or Hedman. It seems that, at least so far, the 2016-17 season won’t be the year he wins his first career Norris Trophy.

Ryan Suter

Suter has been nothing short of a solid figure in the back end of the second best defense in the NHL. In what has been a fantastic first season under Bruce Boudreau, Suter has been a key man in their success and their 12-game winning streak they experienced earlier this season.

Much like the other two men in the honourable mention section, he just isn’t quite at the point production level of the top three. Despite not scoring at an elite level, Suter is still in the top 20 among all defenseman in assists and total points. And despite his solid point production, his 45.66 CF% (as of 1/14/17) is something that seriously dampens his consideration for the Norris Trophy. Suter is worth a mention, but a long way off being considered to win.

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