We’re preparing for the 2013-14 NHL season by looking ahead at some of the league’s prestigious individual awards. Earlier, we made our prediction for the Vezina Trophy.
Now let’s discuss the James Norris Memorial Trophy.
Last season, PK Subban of the Montreal Canadiens won the Norris after a very good season for a Habs squad that finished second in the Eastern Conference. Subban finished the regular season tied with Kris Letang of the Penguins for the league’s top point total among defensemen (38), and his 11 goals from the blue line were second to only Washington’s Mike Green.
Seven of Subban’s 11 goals came on the power play, which was also second among defensemen behind only his Montreal teammate Sergei Markov (8).
The other two finalists for the Norris were Letang and Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild.
Chicago’s Duncan Keith won the Norris in 2010 after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, and is still considered one of the top players in the league. His 27 points ranked 15th among defensemen last year.
However, Keith will be up against a crowded field for the Norris this year. Subban, Letang and Suter aren’t going anywhere, and there are other worthy candidates that will undoubtedly be part of the picture in March and early April.
Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, who won the Norris in 2011, missed most of last year with an Achilles injury. Nashville’s captain Shea Weber will have more eyes on him this year while skating next to Seth Jones, who many believe will contend for the Calder. Boston’s Zdeno Chara is still a beast, and will put up good numbers on another loaded Bruins team. And Drew Doughty will once again lead a deep group in Los Angeles as the Kings chase another division crown.
So who wins the Norris in 2014?
Here are our predicted finalists (followed by their current odds of winning according to Bovada):
- Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild (10/1)
- Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks (12/1)
- PK Subban, Montreal Canadiens (9/2)
- Sleeper: Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues (12/1)
Winner: Ryan Suter
The Olympics could be a game-changer for the Norris, as was the case in 2010 when both Keith and Doughty emerged as finalists after exceptional play representing Canada in Vancouver. Suter will put in big minutes for the United States in Sochi, and has completely emerged from Weber’s shadow. However, a more experienced Jonas Brodin should provide a better compliment to Suter in Minnesota this season, and the Wild could have enough for a longer playoff appearance than in 2013.