The Norris Trophy
The Norris Trophy is awarded to the best defenseman of the year.
Michael Gutnick-Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks
The move to San Jose might just be the best thing to happen in Erik Karlsson’s professional hockey career a move that significantly increases his chances at winning the Norris Trophy. The San Jose Sharks arguably stack up as the best defense in the National Hockey League. At the forefront of the teal blue line, Karlsson makes a clear-cut case to win the Norris Trophy for a third time.
While longtime Shark Brent Burns stands as the most dangerous, aggressive offensive weapon from the point, Karlsson finds a steady combination of offense and defense to excel at both ends of the ice. The 2012 and 2015 Norris Trophy winner seeks to rejuvenate his offensive totals with theSharks after taking a dip with nine goals and 53 assists in 71 games last year.
Karlsson’s presence is always felt on defense night in and night out, skating up and down the full length of the ice with tremendous puck-handling abilities and eyes in the back of his head. The 28-year-old defenseman competes as an annual contender for the Norris Trophy award and
has a greater shot take home the accolade this year with a much-improved San Jose Sharks squad.
Lucas Burrell- Shayne Gostisbehre, Flyers
Not only are Shayne Gostisbehere’s usage and point totals impressive, Ghost lead the league last year in some pretty ridiculous underlying stats. The man lead all defenders with rebounds created at all strengths. He lead all defensemen in team SF%, and GF%. Essentially most of the Flyers offense was produced when number 53 was on the ice.
That’s a pretty overwhelming number and exhibits how much Philadelphia relies on Gostisbehere’s shot and presence in the offensive zone. Not to mention he placed in the top 3 among defenseman in SCF% and HDCF%, stats per naturalstattrick. Ghost is extremely dangerous roving the blue line for this Flyers team.
Expect Ghost to get involved in a lot of the Flyers offense. They might have some impressive forward groups, but Coach Hakstol’s offensive strategy relies heavily on shots from the point. This gives a skater with Ghost’s shooting ability opportunities to fire into open shooting lanes generated by his talented group of forwards in front of him.
He probably won’t be shielded from any tough defensive assignments considering he is partnered with Ivan Provarov, but with all things considered don’t be surprised if you see this young defender in the discussion for the Norris.
David Boettcher- Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks
He is tied for the best defender on arguably the best defensive corps in the league. If it weren’t for Marc-Edouard Vlasic, he would clearly be the best defender on the Sharks roster. He doesn’t have the shutdown defensive ability of Vlasic, but he is no slouch there, and makes up for it with his
Some of Erik Karlsson’s critics try to key in on his inability to defend. After seeing him play in person, that is hogwash. He has already shown how deft he is at defending. He uses his elite skating to close gaps and prevent transition through the neutral zone. He has been nothing but great in own end in two regular season games and is used by Coach DeBoer in critical defensive situations.
Although Karlsson has only scored one point (an assist)this season, expect an uptick as the power play starts to produce and the team gets more comfortable with him. His incredible on ice awareness has helped him to produce several scoring chances, sifting passes through traffic all over the ice. Also, his neutral zone play has sprung the Sharks on several rushes, as he is quickly able to move the puck the other direction. Don’t worry Sharks fans, the points will start coming.
Steve Fishman- P.K Subban, Nashville Predators
There is one defensive corps in the league that you could argue are better than San Jose’s, and that’s the Nashville Predators. The likes of Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and PK Subban can hold water to Karlsson, Burns and Vlasic on San Jose’s blue line.
The best of those three is actually Ellis, but Ellis doesn’t have the offensive numbers that his teammate P.K Subban does. Subban finished tied for second among defensemen last season in goals with 16. A career high for the Subbanator. P.K had 59 points with the Preds last season, in his first fully healthy year with Nashville.
Look for Subban, if he can stay healthy, to repeat and exceed those numbers this season as Nashville will be vying for the number one spot in the Western Conference.