As the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs wind down to the top four teams, two of the teams involved have a Norris Trophy candidate still playing. The Norris Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s top “defensive player who demonstrates, throughout the season, the greatest all-round ability in the position.” The three finalists are three of the biggest names, but the debate is heating up over who deserves it most.
Roman Josi, Nashville Predators (+200)
Two years ago, Roman Josi appeared in his second All-Star Game and finished the year by capturing his first Norris Trophy. Fast forward to 2022, and at 31, he’s making a case for himself again. Leading all defensemen in points during the regular season with 96, Josi shattered the Nashville Predators’ single-season franchise record for assists (73) and points (96). He also eclipsed his own best of 65 points in 69 games, set two years ago.
In March, Josi recorded a whopping 28 points in 14 games, including eight multi-point efforts. Only two defensemen in NHL history have recorded more points in a calendar month: Bobby Orr in March 1971 with 31 and Paul Coffey with 29 in Dec. 1985. He also became the 16th defenseman in NHL history to record multiple double-digit point streaks and the first since Nicklas Lidstrom.
Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning (+1,100)
In a world where the two other finalists don’t exist, Victor Hedman takes home the trophy without question. He’s one of only 12 defensemen across the league to average 25+ minutes of ice time, and he led the NHL in power-play points with 38. Hedman reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career and recorded his first season of over 80 points. He’s also held a top-three spot for the Norris in the last five seasons, winning one in 2018.
The six-time All-Star is standing the test of time, continuing to improve his offensive production and overall play at the age of 31. He tied Martin St. Louis’ 2009-10 season in assists with 65, and he surpassed his Total Point Shares from last season with 6.0, a single-season franchise record. For a sixth-consecutive season, Hedman will be a top-three finalist for the Norris but likely won’t take home the award.
Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche (-225)
Representing the odds-on favourite for the Norris this year, Cale Makar is experiencing a third consecutive year of brilliance. Winning the Calder Trophy in 2020 and following it up by being the 2021 runner-up for the Norris, Makar quickly became one of the NHL’s top talents. Imagine a defenseman who can act as a fourth forward but is better than most forwards, and he doesn’t give up any defensive attributes in the process. Along with Connor McDavid, he’s one of those players you can’t stop watching when the puck is on his stick.
This year’s debate over who deserves the Norris is exceptionally heated compared to previous years. Makar is all-around one of the best defensemen in the league and likely top two ahead of Hedman. He led all defensemen in goals with 28 and was second in points per game with 1.12. Makar is the hands-down favourite this year and could become the first Colorado Avalanche blueliner to win the Norris.
Odds via SportsBettingDime.com
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