If Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau had his way, Francois Beauchemin’s name would be coming up in discussions for the Norris Trophy.
“It should come up,” Boudreau told the OC Register (paywall) about Beauchemin being recognized as one of the NHL’s top defensemen. “On what he’s done and where we are in the standings and how much he plays and how important he is to us — all those factors.”
Beauchemin, 32, is enjoying arguably the finest campaign of his career. He leads the Ducks in points (21) through 36 games — pro-rated, that’s a 47-point pace over an 82 game season.
He also ranks second among all NHL defensemen in plus-minus (+22), eighth among all skaters in blocked shots (85) and averages over 23 minutes for the second-best team in the Western Conference.
Boudreau figures those numbers and Beauchemin’s overall importance to the Ducks should put him in the Norris race — a race that appears to be pretty wide open.
Minnesota’s Ryan Suter, Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang and Montreal’s PK Subban are three of the names that routinely come up, though the likes of St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk, Phoenix’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Ottawa’s Sergei Gonchar have all gotten some buzz.
Boudreau added that Beauchemin’s chances may be hindered by playing in the Pacific Time Zone.
“[Beauchemin’s name] doesn’t come up because we’re not in the East,” Boudreau explained. “He doesn’t have a point a game. He’s not on ‘NHL Tonight’ every night.”
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It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.