With the NHL Awards coming up, we here at The Point will break down the finalists for the six major awards, as well as select our winners before the NHL Awards Ceremony in Vegas on Wednesday. They say defense wins championships so why not start there. First up, the Norris Trophy!
As the reigning Norris Trophy winner, Hedman went about his business and had another stellar season, back-boning the best team in the league to a lopsided Presidents Trophy win. Hedman is a consistent force on the backend delivering night in and night out.
Unlike last year where he dominated at all ends of the ice, finishing top-5 in points and blocked passes along with a sixth place finish in stick checks, Hedman was just solid as he battled through some injuries. Solid for him though is still more than good enough to earn him his Norris Trophy candidacy.
Of the three candidates, Hedman finished with the fewest points per game along with playing the lowest amount of minutes per game. While he may have played great all year he’s going to struggle to keep pace with Mark Giordano and Brent Burns due to the fact that his team was just so good this year so his contributions weren’t as noticeable.
Brent Burns put together another fantastic year leading all defensemen in points. The last season he did that was his Norris Trophy-winning season. Burns used his active stick to finish top-5 in both stick checks and blocked passes making him a nightmare to play against. Considering he finished with the seventh most ice-time per game, Burns was a constant annoyance for opposing forwards and a danger on the offense.
Of the three candidates though, Burns faced on average the weakest opponents while making more offensive zone starts. Essentially he was given preferable matchups in order to open him up for more offense.
At 35 years of age, it’s a safe bet to think that there isn’t a single person out there who could’ve predicted Mark Giordano would be a Norris Trophy candidate this year, but here we are.
Giordano finished tied for third in goals and second to only Burns in points among defensemen. He did this while facing the toughest opposition and the least favorable zone starts of the three finalists. Giordano was being given the opponents top line every night and he delivered.
Giordano clearly excelled this year on the offensive side of the puck but it’s his defensive side that will most likely win him this award. He had the sixth best high-danger shot differential at even-strength to go alongside the fourth-best turnover rate.
Giordano was a force on offense and had a much bigger impact on defense than any of the other candidates.
The Point Consensus Pick: Mark Giordano
The vast majority of you picked Mark Giordano, giving him 65% of your picks. We couldn’t agree more! Burns had an incredible season offensively but didn’t exactly dominate defensively considering he was given easier competition compared to Giordano and Hedman. Hedman had a season where he was very good all around but wasn’t great in any one area. Giordano, on the other hand, was almost just as good offensively as Burns and still ranked as one of the top shut down defensemen in the league this season. There are no other defensemen who played such a good 200-foot game and that’s what earns him his first Norris Trophy.
(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)