With the NHL season getting suspended and little idea of when it may or may not resume, there are a lot of experts who are beginning to wonder if there is any point in bringing back the remainder of the regular season. Many feel it makes more sense that when the NHL is ready to return, the league should start immediately in playoff mode. If that’s the case and the regular season ended on Mar. 11, then who would win the Norris Trophy?
There are a number of interesting candidates for the top defenseman in the league, but it really falls to a two-man race between Washington Capitals’ John Carlson and Nashville Predators’ Roman Josi. Both players had dominant seasons with their respective teams.
The 30-year-old Carlson had a breakout year back in the 2017-18 season when he tallied 15 goals and 68 points, leading the Washington Capitals to their first Stanley Cup victory that year. He signed a long-term deal and duplicated another impressive season last year, boasting a 13-goal, 70-point season. However, what he’s done this year is nothing short of amazing with 15 goals and a career-high 75 points and that’s in just 69 games, averaging an impressive 1.17 points per game that would rank him among the top 10 in points-per-game for a defenseman over the last 30 years.
Josi, however, isn’t far behind. The Predators’ blueliner also had career highs in a (currently) shortened season. The 29-year-old has 16 goals and 65 points in 69 games and the Nashville Predators are a better team on shot suppression and save percentage when Josi is on the ice than Carlson.
While Carlson has the edge with offensive dominance, voters are expected to judge Norris candidates by their overall skill, which includes their defensive dominance, which is where Josi has the advantage who played even better on the defensive end of the ice when Nashville was without one of their other top blueliners in Ryan Ellis.
If you’re looking for a third option, the best candidate might be St. Louis Blues’ captain Alex Pietrangelo, who has had one of the best offensive performances of the season as well. The 30-year-old currently has career highs in goals and points with 16 goals and 52 points, which has propelled the Blues back into first place after a Stanley Cup victory.
So the question is, which defenseman should win the Norris Trophy if the season doesn’t continue?
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