The Norris Trophy is awarded to the NHL’s top defenseman each season. This year Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators has been a top blue liner in the Central Division, and perhaps the entire league.
Some readers out there may not even know who Josi is. To keep things simple, he’s the guy that plays alongside Shea Weber for the Predators and actually logs more ice time per night than the Nashville captain with 26:30 on average.
There is no way Nashville can have two potential Norris candidates, right? Wrong, the Predators indeed do have two skaters that could be invited to the NHL Awards this year with Josi and Weber. Yet Weber’s counterpart has the slight advantage on who could take home the hardware.
Josi has had quite the season this year in the blue and gold. This being just his fourth full season at the NHL level for Nashville, he’s just a handful of points away from entering the record books among Predators’ d-men. The 24-year-old has lit the lamp 14 times and added 37 assists in 72 games for 51 points. The all-time season scoring record among Nashville blue liners is held by none other than Weber after his 56-point 2013-14 season.
No, the Norris isn’t handed to the best Nashville defenseman, but let’s compare his numbers among other frontrunners in the NHL and past winners.
The Calgary Flames blue liner had quite the season before going down with an injury on February 25 against the New Jersey Devils. His status was unclear the following days after the injury before the team announced on trade deadline day he would miss the rest of the season with a torn left bicep tendon. The 31-year-old had 48 points (11G, 37A) in 61 games before his year ended too quickly.
Giordano could still be a finalist for the Norris, that’s how great his year was, but missing the final 21 games of the year he may be out of luck when it comes to taking home some hardware.
Already briefly praised, Weber is in the middle of the seventh 40-plus point season of his career with 15 goals and 29 assists with 10 games left on Nashville’s schedule. He logs big ice time (26:25 a night), wears the ‘C’ on his chest, and still stands as one of the faces of the organization.
The NHL’s hardest shooter has been a finalist for the award three times in his career, he’s been an alternate captain for Team Canada where he’s won two Olympic gold medals, and selected to the All-Star Game four times. Weber may only need a Norris Trophy to complete his resume, but his counterpart may ‘snub’ him from the award yet again.
Doughty may be one of the more overlooked defensemen in the NHL. He may not score as much as other top blue liners around the league, but he deserves to be mentioned in the same crowd.
The 25-year-old is a leader for the Los Angeles Kings and makes an impact on the ice each and every time he steps foot on it. He’s scpred only five times this season, but he’s added 35 helpers for 40 points 70 games played. He may not be the flashiest, but he’s easily a top-five d-man in the NHL.
Honorable Mentions: Kris Letang (PIT), P.K. Subban (MTL), Erik Karlsson (OTT), Duncan Keith (CHI)
Past Winners: Duncan Keith 2013-14 (61 points), P.K. Subban 2012-13 (38 points in 42 games), Erik Karlsson 2011-12 (78 points)
Josi sizes up with every player mentioned above. He’s having a career year and is on pace for 57 points which would be a new Predators defensemen scoring record, shattering his career high in points (40) which he tallied a year ago.
The young blue liner is emerging as one of the best defensemen on the planet, and he would really arrive on scene if named as a finalist for the Norris, as he rightly should following the season.