The three finalists for the Norris Trophy provide an exciting race with two previous winners and the 2020-21 runner-up competing for the award, presented annually to the best defender in the NHL.
Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Norris winner in 2017-18, the best stats of his great career.
Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators, the 2019-20 winner, stated that he would win a second trophy with numbers not drafted by an NHL defenseman in nearly three decades.
Cale Makarithe runner-up for the Norris last season to Adam Fox of the New York Rangers, aims to become the first Colorado Avalanche player to win the award.
Who is the best defenseman in the NHL for this regular season, as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association? We’ll find out when the winner will be announced at the 2022 NHL Awards in Tampa on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN, TVAS), but in the meantime, NHL.com asked three writers to each provide a compelling argument as to why one of the finalists must win.
Victor HedmanTampa Bay Lightning
While the other finalists each had a great season, Hedman stands out as the best defender for his consistency. This is Hedman’s sixth straight season as a Norris Trophy finalist and somehow he’s only won it once – in 2017-18. It has reached the point where Hedman is almost taken for granted, but the 31-year-old continues to raise his level of play. In his 13th season in the League, he achieved NHL career heights with 20 goals, 65 assists and 85 points in 82 games. He finished third in the NHL among defenders in goals and points and second in assists. He was first in the league among defenders with 38 power play points and finished first in game-winning goals with six. Hedman was 11th in the NHL, leading the Lightning with an ice time average of 25:05 per game, helping the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions qualify for the Stanley Cup Play for the eighth time in nine seasons. offs by going 51-23-8. † — Tom Gulitti, staff writer
Video: NSH@TBL: Hedman fires a one-timer at powerplay
Roman JosiNashville Predators
Hedman had an excellent season and will go down in history as one of the greats of all time — and he was still nowhere near Josi, which tells you how great a season Josi had. Josi had 96 points (23 goals, 73 assists). That’s 10 points more than the next defender this season, Cale Makari† That’s the highest total for a defender in 29 years! Since Phil Housley had 97 points (18 goals, 79 assists) for the Winnipeg Jets in 1992-93, a defender hasn’t reached that level. Only seven other defenders have done it in NHL history: Housley, Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Denis Potvin, Brian Leetch, Al MacInnis and Bobby Orr. When Josi de Norris won in 2019-20, he was down 31 points! Hard to ignore those numbers. — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist
Video: NSH@OTT: Josi breaks record for one season in Nashville
Cale MakariColorado Avalanche
A day after the Avalanche knocked out the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference finals, Wayne Gretzky was excited about Makar. The NHL’s all-time leading scorer was part of TNT’s coverage of the series and was impressed by the young defender’s skill and composure. “He’s so good on both ends of the ice,” Gretzky said. “He skates so easily. He’s dominant.” Hey, who am I to argue with The Great One? Besides, the numbers back him up. The 23-year-old led all NHL defenders in goals scored with 28, becoming just the fifth defender in the past 30 years to reach that total (Brent Burns, 29 in 2016-17; Mike Green, 31 in 2008-09; Al MacInnis, 28 in 1993-94; Kevin Hatcher, 34 in 1992-93). He was second to Josi among defenders with 86 points, the most by a blue-liner in franchise history, and was plus-48, fifth among all NHLers. Add it all up, and it says here that Makar should win the Norris this year, the first of several. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer
Video: COL@CHI: Makar makes nice backhander for OT win