THE NORRIS TROPHY
The Norris Trophy is an award given to the best defensemen in the league for that year and has been given out since 1953. The most Norris wins is held by the legendary Bobby Orr who won it eight times. Recent trends have had more defensive than offensive defenseman winning the award. Keep that in mind and I unveil my Top Five contenders for the Norris Trophy in the 2020-21 NHL season.
"We're excited to get going. We know we're facing a tough opponent."
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) May 14, 2021
The Swedish defenseman should be known no doubt the best defenseman in the league and for good reason. Since his rookie campaign in the 2009-10 season, he has gotten better and better. Having recently won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the best player in the playoffs last season, Hedman has stepped his game up even more.
This season he has elevated his offense to almost a point per game with 45 points in 54 games, on a loaded Tampa Bay Lightning squad and has been a rock-solid defensively once again. In my mind, Hedman is the third-best defenseman of the past 25 years. There is no doubt he is the ‘Bolts most important and valued member of the team, because if he goes down, so do the Lightning.
Cale Makar’s words: “I don’t know if I should be in (the Norris) discussion for this year.”
Cale Makar’s play: pic.twitter.com/aqfSmnE2xN
— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) May 9, 2021
This sophomore talent has followed his pretty remarkable rookie campaign by being one of the best defensemen in the league. Makar has managed to elevate his game not just offensively but also being reliable in his end too. One of his best traits is the way he dictates how the game is played, while also playing against opponents’ top units.
Makar has the maturity of a veteran defenseman even though he has only been in the league for a season before this one. He has already overtaken the top Avalanche defenseman spot, which is third in goals against, and if he continues his production with 44 points in 44 games, and keeps being reliable in his own end, Makar very well could be the best defenseman of the upcoming generation.
Adam Fox talks about winning Rangers' team MVP and being in the discussion for the Norris Trophy:
"It's definitely an honor with the names you hear" pic.twitter.com/n6Fym5kV6j
— Rangers Videos (@SNYRangers) May 10, 2021
The sophomore playing for the Rangers has been their best player this season. That is saying a lot considering he plays with a superstar in Artemi Panarin and an elite center in Mika Zibanejad. Fox was steady defensively throughout this year and had decent numbers, about a 45-point pace in a full season, for most of the year. But for the past two months, Fox has been not only the best defenseman in the league but the second-best player in the league.
In the past two months, Fox has played in 29 games and he has had 34 points in that span. To put that in retrospect, that pace is on contract for a 96-point season. For a defenseman- think about that for a second. This streak has Fox with 47 points in 55 games for the season. Fox has elevated himself to be a serious Norris contender.
Drew Doughty on playing with Mikey Anderson is the content you need today. 🥺
— LA Kings (@LAKings) May 15, 2021
The veteran defender has had a few rough seasons as of late, but this year has been a resurgence for the former Norris winner. In fact, this could be his greatest performance yet! Doughty has 34 points in 56 games but his offense is not the reason I have him here. I have him here is based on two reasons: his impact on the back end and his impact on the Kings. Doughty’s defensive prowess has elevated the Kings to a chance at the playoffs for most of the year.
Yes, it is not just Doughty who had them in that position, as Kopitar has been the two-way force he is, and Brown has continued his career resurgence of the past few years, and Petersen has been a rock in net. But Doughty has managed to not only rebound from some less-than-ideal seasons but also has led a defense that was projected to allow the most goals in this season to 19th in goals against. For a player that so many overlooked before the season, he too has elevated himself into the Norris discussion.
The biggest moments of my career will live forever with your calls. Thank you for the conversations. Thank you for making hockey sound so graceful. Congratulations on a remarkable career. #ThankYouDoc pic.twitter.com/V6l8mNVFzS
— Kristopher Letang (@Letang_58) October 20, 2020
Man did Letang have an underrated year! Not only is he still the back-core defenseman of the recent winners of the toughest division this year, but he also situated himself fourth in points scored for defenseman all at the ripe age of 34 years old. Letang has always been skilled offensively and defensively over the years, but this year is his second-best year and yet no one’s talking about him solely because of the intriguing younger options. That is not fair as Letang has the potential to be the anchor of another Cup-winning team in the Penguins and yet, like his career, it will go unnoticed.
This season has been vastly different compared to past seasons but has also proven to be the most interesting. This list is true to that statement as it contains two sophomore stars who are emerging to be elite defensemen, a 34-year-old veteran enjoying another terrific campaign, and a former Cup winner going back to his old form The Norris has many other contenders who did not make the list, but these are my top five and I hope you agree. Let me know in the comments section!