The three nominees for this year’s Norris Trophy are in.
San Jose’s Brent Burns, Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman are the finalists, the NHL announced on Friday. The news came as little surprise, as the trio finished as the top three scoring defensemen in the league this year — Burns finished with 76 points (and 29 goals, by far the most from a blueliner), Hedman with 72, and Karlsson with 71.
This marks the fourth time Karlsson has been a finalist, having won the award in 2012 and again in 2015. Burns was a nominee last year, finishing third in voting, while Hedman made the final three for the first time in his career, having never finished higher than seventh.
Most expect this to be a two-horse race, between Burns and Karlsson. The former, as mentioned above, had a terrific offensive campaign, and became the first defenseman to post back-to-back 75-point campaigns since Brian Leetch did it 20 years ago.
Karlsson had an equally stellar year, and got some push for Hart Trophy consideration as league MVP.
“With what he’s done this year, the way he’s done it, I can’t imagine better,” head coach Guy Boucher said, per CBC. “Right now it’s absolutely sublime, it really is.”