2019-20 NHL Awards by the Numbers: Norris Trophy

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 20: Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning poses with the James Norris Memorial Trophy given to the top defenseman in the press room at the 2018 NHL Awards presented by Hulu at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on June 20, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

With the season on hold for the time being, there’s no telling what would have happened with the 2019-20 NHL Awards. Sure certain players had leads but the race for most awards were tighter than what showed on the surface. This is especially true when looking at the underlying stats, which bring up some exciting cases. In this series, the Last Word on Hockey team will decide who should have won each award based on the advanced numbers. Today, we’ll look at the Norris Trophy. You can find the previous article on the winner of the Selke Trophy here.

Deciding the 2019-20 NHL Awards: Norris Trophy

Winner: Alex Pietrangelo

The Norris has had lots of players that would be a good choice as the winner this season. This season the St. Louis Blues captain, Alex Pietrangelo, has positioned himself above the rest of the pack, though, with his incredible play offensively and defensively. Tying his career-high in primary points with 34 this season, Pietrangelo was an absolute force. With a 53.57 xGF%, Pietrangelo has shown an amazing play at even strength this season. He has also ranked in the top 30 of NHL defenceman with at least 750 minutes played in corsi for per percentage with 52.94%. He ranks top 10 corsi against per 60 among defenceman with the same time on ice.

Pietrangelo has really shown on the power play. Being top 10 in total xGF on the power play in the league among defenceman and top 20 in xGF/60, Pietrangelo had been a real force, to be expected given his usage and even strength results.

On the penalty kill, Pietrangelo has proven to an efficient player as well. While not a premier player on the penalty kill, his usage in combination with his offensive numbers is impressive in itself. Limiting the opponent’s attempts to 90.16 CA/60, it places him within the top 50 of NHL defenceman and top 55 in xGA/60 at 6.36.

In his contract year, the captain of the current defending Stanley Cup Champions (for the foreseeable future as well) has performed incredibly well in all aspects of the game, and for that reason he is the pick for the 2019-20 Norris Trophy.

Runner-Up: Roman Josi

With the Nashville Predators having a poor season by their standards (barely holding the second wild card slot with the second tie-breaker), one of the few bright spots has been the performance of captain Roman Josi. Without Josi on the ice (along with his main defence partner Ryan Ellis), the Predators were a very weak team both offensively and defensively. With Josi on the ice he brings the team from a below-average team to one that is above-average on ice.

   

   

Josi was second in the league at CF/60 at 66.96 and top 25 in CF% with 53.37%. At even strength Josi was able to put up 52.8% in xGF%. Josi’s real skill has always been offence, however, this season he was also a significant player in the defensive zone.

Similar to our winner, Pietrangelo, Josi was also effective on the special teams. He was within the top 10 of all defenceman with at least 50 minutes on the powerplay in xGF/60 in 8.11 and third in the league in CF/60 on the powerplay. On the penalty kill we see Josi remain in the top 50 of defencemen in CA/60.

Josi could very well win the Norris this season, however, in these rankings he has taken the #2 slot next to a division rival defenceman.

Third Place: Shea Theodore

Rounding off the top 3 in our Norris picks is Shea Theodore of the Vegas Golden Knights. Theodore makes this list because of his elite offensive capabilities. Theodore ranks at the top of the league among defencemen with at least 750 minutes in xGF, ahead of players like Dougie Hamilton, and second in the league in xGF% at 5v5.

Shea also has a huge presence on the Vegas Golden Knights, coming in at 6th across the league’s defencemen in xGF and the best in the league for on the powerplay in CF/60.

While his defence may leave something to be desired, his offence more than makes up for any short-comings. It is something that had to be acknowledged on this list. His incredible offence allows for Theodore to crack the top three for our 2019-20 Norris awards list.

Honourable Mentions

Dougie Hamilton

Hamilton easily could’ve won this award when looking at nearly every metric if he were to continue at the pace he was on prior to his injury.

Ryan Ellis

Similar to Hamilton, Ellis very easily could’ve been the winner had he played more games. It is difficult to award either player the Norris at their current number of games played compared to others, however, these two would certainly be topping the list if they had.

Credit to Evolving Hockey for the RAPM charts and HockeyViz for the unblocked shot rate heat maps.

Check in again tomorrow while we continue our 2019-20 NHL awards!

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images

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