This week we’re taking advantage of the All-Star Break to take stock of how Blackhawks players (and coach) rank among their peers when the NHL Awards are handed out in Vegas this summer. So far, we’ve talked about the Hart Trophy, the Jack Adams Award and the Vezina Trophy.
Now, let’s move on to the Norris Trophy.
Duncan Keith has won the Norris twice, the most significant individual pieces on his Hall of Fame resume. But an early season surgery cost him a month of ice time, and will undoubtedly keep him away from Vegas this summer. Is there another Blackhawks defenseman who could be in the mix for the honor, however?
Seabrook has lived in Keith’s shadow for pretty much his entire career. But a contract extension earlier this year keeps him in Chicago through the rest of his career (probably), and he has started to enter conversations around the league’s top defenseman on some national telecasts. He is tied for 10th among defensemen with 31 points at the All-Star Break and, while finally wearing an “A” on the front of his jersey every night, has done so while babysitting either Erik Gustafsson or Trevor van Riemsdyk. But has he been good enough for Norris Trophy consideration? Unfortunately, probably not.
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa
Are there flaws with his game defensively? Sure. But he’s on pace to have one of the top point-producing seasons from a defenseman in the last 30 years, and is doing it on a team that lacks elite fire power up front. His 52 points are fourth in the NHL – for everyone, not just defensemen (he has a nine-point lead over the field of rearguards). Karlsson is also skating a league-high 28:51 per night, a seemingly ridiculous total.
John Klingberg, Dallas
Klingberg’s 34 assists rank second in the NHL among defensemen, and he has quickly emerged as the best defenseman on the Stars. He’s collected 14 power play points and has two game-winning goals already this season while averaging 23:13 per night as a 23-year-old. His 40 points already tie his rookie season total from last year, when he skated in 65 games for Dallas.
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles
This hasn’t been his biggest offensive season (his 28 points barely make the top 20 defensemen at the Break), but Doughty is still one of the best and most respected defensemen in the game. His ten goals are tied for eighth among defensemen, and the Kings are running away with the Pacific Division.
PK Subban, Montreal
Brent Burns, San Jose
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona
Karlsson has two at home already, so winning a third – within a month of his 26th birthday – would put him on an incredibly short list of all-time greats. The Sens are only three points out of a wild card spot right now, so a playoff push for Ottawa could only amplify the case for their captain. If he continues putting up huge offensive numbers, it’s hard to see someone taking the Norris away from Karlsson.