The NHL has started to release their award finalists, this time announcing the three nominees for the Norris Trophy. The award is given out to the top defenseman “who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.” Last year’s winner was Adam Fox of the New York Rangers, but he won’t be defending his title this time around.
Josi, winner of the award in 2020, nearly reached an unfathomable offensive level this season when he scored 23 goals and 96 points for the Predators. He became the highest-scoring defenseman in nearly three decades and joined a group of Hall of Fame defensemen with at least 96 points in a single season. Only Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, Al MacInnis, Brian Leetch, Denis Potvin, Phil Housley, and Ray Bourque have ever reached those heights previously, nearly a Mount Rushmore of offensive NHL defensemen. It is the second time he has been named a finalist, following his win two years ago.
Makar, still just 23 years old, has now been a finalist in back-to-back seasons after finishing second in voting last year. The Avalanche phenom led all defensemen with 28 goals and racked up 86 points, pushing his career total just over a point-per-game through three seasons. It’s hard to fathom the ceiling for the 2017 fourth-overall pick, who also took strides defensively this year and once again was one of the most valuable players in the league by many metrics. Makar averaged nearly 26 minutes a game and set highs in more traditional defensive statistics like +/- (+48), blocks (110), and hits (95).
Hedman is probably used to this by now, after being a finalist in each of the last five seasons previous. He won the award in 2018, a season that paled in comparison (at least offensively) to this year. The big Tampa Bay blueliner racked up his first 20-goal season and pied on a career-best 85 points, while playing in all 82 games for the first time in his 13-year career. Averaging more than 25 minutes a night in all situations, Hedman is carving out a career that will have him considered among the very best the game has ever produced when it is all said and done.
Tomorrow, the award announcements will continue with the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy.