The NHL Awards roll on with the presentation of the James Norris Memorial Trophy, presented to the league’s top defenseman. This year’s winner is the Nashville Predators’ Roman Josi, as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Josi took the award against stout competition, with the Washington Capitals’ John Carlson and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman as his fellow finalists.
Josi, 30, has received Norris votes in the past but made it impossible for the PHWA to ignore him this season with a career-high 16 goals and 65 points in just 69 games. Josi led all defensemen in goals and trailed only Carlson in assists, points, and points per game. He also led all defensemen in shots by a wide margin. Josi additionally averaged the third-most total time on ice and even strength time on ice this year and finished in the top-ten among defensemen in plus/minus.
With all that said, this was expected to be one of the tighter awards races given that the well-rounded Hedman is a previous winner and multiple-time finalist, while Carlson enjoyed a career year of his own that was arguably superior to Josi’s offensively. Yet, the voting was convincingly in favor of Josi. The Predators star received 109 first-place votes to Carlson’s 56 and finished more than 200 voting points ahead. Meanwhile, Hedman finished closer to the St. Louis Blues’ Alex Pietrangelo in fourth than he did challenge Josi and Carlson. Call it a reflection of his career more than this season alone if you like, but Josi undoubtedly deserved a Norris and was terrific in 2019-20.