Over the past few days, the NHL has been revealing the finalists for their end-of-season awards. Today, they announced the top three for the Norris Trophy balloting. Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman, Calgary’s Mark Giordano, and San Jose’s Brent Burns are up for the award, given to the defenseman who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability in the position.
Hedman will be looking to make it two straight years with the award after winning it for the first time in 2018 while it is his third straight time being a finalist. If he gets the nod, he’ll be the first back-to-back winner since Nicklas Lidstrom won three straight from 2006 through 2008. Injuries limited him to 70 games this season but he was the undisputed leader of Tampa Bay’s back end that allowed the fifth-fewest goals in the league which played a big role in their 62 regular season victories. While the postseason doesn’t factor into the voting, his injury and eventual absence played a big role in their early departure at the hands of Columbus.
Giordano finished second among defensemen in scoring this season with a career-high 74 points in 78 games. For perspective, his point total was in the thirties in the previous two years. He also led the league in plus/minus with a +39 rating while finishing in the top-five in five-on-five shot differential among defenders with at least 1,000 minutes of playing time. The fact that Calgary also went from missing the playoffs a year ago to finishing first in the Western Conference will also help his cause. This is Giordano’s first nomination for the award and could become only the fourth defenseman to win it at the age of 35 or older.
Burns, who won the award back in 2017, led all blueliners in scoring with 83 points in 82 games as well as game-winning goals (six) and shots on goal (300). He’s only the fourth defender since 1995-96 to average a point per game and is only the third one in NHL history to lead his team in scoring for three straight years. His play in his own end can be shaky at times but he logged over 25 minutes a night of ice time and his production was higher than it was when he won the award with a 76-point campaign.
The winner will be announced on June 19th at the annual NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas.