Predicting The NHL Awards: Norris Trophy

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?

Brent Seabrook

Brent Seabrook

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

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

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

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.

Honorable Mention:
PK Subban, Montreal
Brent Burns, San Jose
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona

The Winner:

Erik Karlsson

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.

20 thoughts on “Predicting The NHL Awards: Norris Trophy

  1. The Norris has turned into the best offensive d-man award. They have the Selke for best defensive forward. Why not a Bobby Orr award for best offensive d-man? Is the forward who wins the Selke the best overall forward? Not necessarily, how else does John Madden win a Selke?

  2. Why no love for Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman ?

    The guy was a beast against the Black Hawks last spring.

  3. Because that was last year for Hedman. He has 4 goals and 24 assists. He had a slow start so at this point he’s really a non factor.

  4. Karlsson will win it hands down but we are seriously in the running for a lot of other hardware this season, unlike we have seen since the Hull/Makita days ( with the exception of Tony Esposito in goal ) and that is a great thing for the team and high time.

    While we are talking about defenseman and there is a lull in the hockey world during this All Star break, I would like to put forth an alternative time line of events and see what some of you think. It is also in keeping with a bit of thought in very recent posts. I believe that Dustin Byfuglein is THE single most unique player in the NHL today ( the Winnipeg Jets would be totally insane to lose this guy). Stan Bowman has freely and publicly stated that letting Byfuglein go was “a mistake” ( a quote from a couple of years ago). So let’s say we kept Byfuglein as a core player and let others go instead. I think Sharp would have been gone much earlier but who else or would that be enough? Would we have still won 2 more cups with him on board and others not? Should he have remained a Blackhawk? …personally I think he was the perfect image and style of player that has defined what a Blackhawk player is. Have to concur with Stan and agree it “was a mistake”, but we have won 2 cups since and so it’s easy to refute that. So where are we today with a theoretical Byfuglein, who stayed on the team all along and who is not on the ice for us instead? Are we more or less a contender?

  5. MM it is an interesting thought but buff oftendisappeared through the regular season and said quite often that he preferred to play DEFENSE and NOT offense. The let Sharp move from center to wing and perhaps they would have let Buff do the same although they had a solid top four. The other point that needs to be brought up is that the role Buff played as forward is really hard on your body for 100 games if you make the final. Bickell’s body was thrashed after 2013 and he hasnt been the same since. Dustin Brown is the same way. I think they were okay with letting Buff go but the return could have been higher. We essentially got panik for him since we traded morin

  6. re: the Hawks’ return for Byfuglien – it’s been almost 6 years since we went over this, so why not go back in time.

    Because of the cap, the Hawks were bent over a barrel when Bowman started cutting salary after the Cup in ’10. His options were incredibly limited, and then the situation became amplified by Hjalmarsson’s offer sheet & Niemi going to arbitration. When you look back at the deal that sent Byfuglien to Atlanta (note: Eastern Conference), the Hawks didn’t get anything that impacted the NHL back. BUT the reality of that deal was simple: the Hawks needed picks/prospects to inject some skill in an EMPTY organization, and Bowman needed to DUMP A LOT OF SALARY. Byfuglien brought back Morin (then a nice prospect), a #1 and a #2 pick (used on Kevin Hayes and Justin Holl) for Byfuglien. Reasoner & Crabb didn’t stick. BUT the bigger part of that deal that most fans ignore was Bowman getting Atlanta to take the contracts of Sopel & Eager off the books as well. As we talked about at the time, the Hawks were making tough choices between veterans like Ladd, Byfuglien and Versteeg versus Hjalmarsson and Sharp, and clearly they made the right choices. But keeping the core together came at a cost. Was it a great deal? No. Did getting Sopel off the books possibly mean Hjalmarsson could stay here? Absolutely. And I sincerely doubt the Hawks have Cups 2 or 3 without #4 on the blue line.

  7. re: Byfuglien’s position – he wanted to be a defenseman but didn’t want to work as hard as the Blackhawks coaches and front office expected their defensemen to. So they moved him to an organization with no expectations whatsoever, and he showed up out of shape the next couple years. Where he is as a player in 2016 – after five years as a full-time defenseman – isn’t what he would have been in Chicago. Revisionist history is fun, but it’s also fiction.

  8. Also, the Hawks play a pretty structured game defensively. What makes Byfuglien unique is he’s able to do what he wants. This often puts himself in a vulnerable position and his partner scrambling when what he’s trying to do doesn’t work. Not playing Qs game will put you in the doghouse. See Leddy, Nick. Nick Leddy is not Byfuglien. But I hope you see the point.

  9. Also, Bill Daly said the NHL’s investigation of Kane is ongoing.

    What exactly is there to investigate? The DA has said the allegations were false. Made up. Never happened. Sigh.

  10. The piece of the bufyglien comment that I also find interesting is that the jets really can’t afford to lose him (their opinions obviously, not necessarily mine). This mean Ladd is the one likely moving.

    I have heard it suggested that Ladd could return here. He would certainly fill Saad’s spot. His salary is around 4.5mil.

    What do you think would need to be packaged with Bickle to make this trade work? And besides Kane, Toews, Seabrook, Kieth, Hjarlmerson, Crawford, who do you consider untouchable in that trade package?

  11. I suspect Victor Hedman and the Tampa Bay Lightning got off to a slow start because they (like the Black Hawks) had such a short summer to recover from playing the SCF into late June.

    Which makes Seabrook’s performance this year even more incredible.

  12. That guy wouldn’t ever win a Norris if is was top Defenseman overall. They really should have the Norris be strictly top defenseman in league (overall) and one for each the offensive defenseman (Karlsson) and defensive defenseman (Hammer).

  13. Remember the uproar over the Black Hawks signing Brent Seabrook to his extension earlier this season? Tab even provided a link which stated that Buff was better than Brent Seabrook.

    Funny that we don’t see Buff’s name even mentioned in Tab’s current list of finalists and honorable mentions.

  14. Thing about Big Buff is if we did keep him then he would have been traded when Sharpy was anyways. If Bowman did mention it was a mistake he might have meant Soupy not Sharpy. Bowman kept the best core there was to keep, top 3 Defenseman and the top FW. Q told media/etc. he liked the center depth even though he didn’t play 10 at center after that.

    Center depth is harder to get. So once you get some/it you need to hold on to it as long as uou can. These were really good centers, 19/10/36/4th, then 19/2nd/36/16, but now 19/15/24/16 is even better. Which makes us deeper at center then we have been.

  15. Team Chemistry; a mantra in any sport. My question is if both superstars on the HAWKS knew about the team’s restrictions why didn’t they take LESS money short term to allow Saad to sign with Chicago?…8 mill apiece would free up 4 plus million for Saader. I know. Dream on.

  16. Tab

    Sorry that I wasn’t clear.
    In Your column that disagreed with the criticism with Seabrook’s extension, you did NOT say Buff was better than Seabrook. The article you were refuting made that claim and several of us begged to differ with it.


  17. Great points by Morrison about the center depth right now. I will be interested to see, with Kruger expected to return from a hand/wrist injury as late in the regular season as he will, if the Hawks consider adding a rental at 3C who’s better at the dot that Anisimov/Danault.

    With that in mind, since we’re throwing around expensive rentals, would the Hawks consider making a play for Eric Staal? It would undoubtedly take some creative accounting, but he wants to play for another Cup and he’s 55% at the dot before the Break. Slot him as a 3C for 6-7 weeks? Yes please. Just not sure what it would take to get him…

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