As the regular season winds down, awards chatter heats up — and no trophy has garnered more debate this season than the Norris, awarded annually to the league’s top defenseman.
If you talk to enough pundits, you’ll come to the conclusion this year’s hardware will go to one of two guys: Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, or Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty.
But from the Bay Area, a third suitor is getting a push from his teammates — Brent Burns.
“He’s an animal,” James Reimer said of Burns, per the San Jose Mercury News. “He’s arguably one of the best defensemen in the league right now and probably not getting the recognition he deserves.”
Burns, who represented San Jose at this year’s All-Star Game, is enjoying a quality campaign. He sits second among all blueliners in scoring, with 74 points — only Karlsson has more, with 79 — and his eye-popping 344 shots on goal are something of an anomaly from a defenseman, as only three in NHL history have fired that many in a single season:
Dustin Byfuglien, Ray Bourque, and Bobby Orr.
Despite that, most concede that Burns is unlikely to bring home the Norris this year. Part of that could do with his, ahem, occasionally reckless style of play, which often leads to turnovers.
The other part could be his history. Despite being a good, quality rearguard for quite some time, Burns has never finished higher than 12th in Norris voting.
It’s something his head coach, Peter DeBoer, can’t make sense of.
“I can’t understand why he’s not in those conversations more for (the Norris Trophy),” DeBoer explained. “He’s a version of (Nashville’s Shea) Weber and Doughty.
“He plays well in both ends for us, plays against other team’s best lines. They’re big guys a lot of nights, and he brings a physical element too, which some of those guys don’t. For me, he should be in that conversation all day long, and I don’t understand why I don’t hear his name more.”