Boston’s Zdeno Chara, Chicago’s Duncan Keith, and Nashville’s Shea Weber are the three finalists for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman.
Chara…averaged a team-high 24:39 of ice time per game, nearly 3 minutes more than the next-closest player, and also placed in the top 10 among NHL defensemen in goals (17), plus/minus (+25), power-play goals (10) and game-winning goals (3).
Keith led all defensemen with 55 assists and ranked second among blueliners with 61 points to power a Chicago offense that paced the NHL with 267 goals.
Weber ranked first among defensemen with 23 goals and set a franchise record for points by a blueliner with 56, leading the Predators in scoring for the second consecutive season.
Of the three, Weber is the only one who’s yet to win the award. Chara won in 2009; Keith in 2010.
The last two recipients, Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and Montreal’s PK Subban, also had strong seasons, with the former leading all d-men with 74 points. However, both finished as minus players (Karlsson -15, Subban -4), which despite the dubiousness of that statistic may have hurt their chances with Professional Hockey Writers’ Association voters. (Ottawa’s poor season as a team wouldn’t have helped Karlsson either.)
Weber also finished as a minus player (-2) on a Predators team that didn’t make the playoffs, which could hurt his chances. That said, Nicklas Lidstrom won the award in 2011 with a minus-2 rating, so voters have been able to look past plus/minus before.
As for some so-called snubs…
— Minnesota’s Ryan Suter led the NHL in total ice time, averaging almost 30 minutes a game, while scoring more points than Chara’s 40, with 43.
— Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman had the third-most even-strength points (35), behind only Karlsson (43) and Keith (39).
— Calgary’s Mark Giordano was a favorite of the advanced stats community, with a 53.3% Corsi on a rebuilding Flames team that had poor overall possession numbers.