A former winner, a former finalist and a first-time nominee comprise this year’s Norris Trophy candidate list.
Today, the NHL announced that Boston’s Zdeno Chara, Nashville’s Shea Weber and Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson have been nominated for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the defensive player who demonstrates “the greatest all-round ability in the position.”
Onto the finalists…
The 35-year-old Slovak won his first and only Norris back in 2009, becoming just the third blueliner not named Nicklas Lidstrom to win the award since 2001 (the others were Scott Niedermayer and Duncan Keith.)
Chara put together another stellar campaign this year, finishing fourth among all defensemen in scoring (12G-40A-52PTS) while finishing plus-33, the third-best rating in the league. He averaged 25 minutes per game and was the anchor of a Boston penalty kill that finished 11th in the NHL (83.5 percent).
This is the second straight year Weber’s been named a Norris Trophy finalist — last year, he narrowly lost to Lidstrom (727 voting points to Lidstrom’s 736) but also broke new ground by finishing 25th in Hart Trophy voting.
This season, he’s been equally good. Weber tied for the NHL lead in defensemen goals (19) and was the only blueliner in the league to hit double digits in power play goals, with 10. He also posted a career-best plus-21 rating and averaged over 26 minutes of ice time — the fifth-most in the NHL.
This is the first Norris nomination for the 21-year-old Swede. Karlsson’s scoring exploits took the NHL by storm this year as his 78 points finished 11th among all scorers — he finished the year with more points than the likes of Marian Hossa, Joe Thornton, Marian Gaborik, Martin St. Louis and Jarome Iginla.
His scoring exploits also put their mark in history. His 78 points were the second-highest total by a defenseman since the lockout — Nicklas Lidstrom had 80 in 2005-06 — and Karlsson also set Ottawa franchise records for goals, assists and points in a season by a defenseman.