Blog Entry

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:29 am
Edited on: March 1, 2012 11:39 am
 
The top two draft picks are in it. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Welcome to Award Races. For every week the remainder of the season, we will break down two of the awards races at a time and see how they are stacking up as the NHL season hits the home stretch.

We began our Award Races last week by looking at -- in my opinion -- the two most prestigious in the Hart Trophy and the Vezina. One of those races (Vezina) has a clear front-runner then a tight fight for runner-up. The other (Hart) is very tight and will be a battle to the end.

That seems to be what we're talking about this week too, only with the Norris Trophy and Calder. Let's start with the Norris.

At this point, Erik Karlsson seems like a shoe-in for the award. He has taken the points lead and laughed at the rest of the league's defensemen, doing circles around them. He's 23 points ahead of the second highest-scoring defenseman, Brian Campbell. Seriously, he's tied with Henrik Sedin and Joffrey Lupul for sixth in points among all skaters.

Part of the equation that goes into the Norris obviously is how good you are on defense too, it can't be all about offense. But maybe this time it can be, when a guy is just that much more dominant in that regard than the rest of the field. And it's not like Karlsson is completely defenseless. He might not be as good in his own zone as some of the others on this list, but he's responsible enough to garner more than 25 minutes a game in ice time.

So that one is pretty clear. The Calder going to the top rookie? Now this is a race.

At the midpoint of the season it seemed like it was in the bag for last year's No. 1 overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to take the award. Well he's still in the conversation, but he's been joined by others ... and overtaken.

The comments on the second overall pick Gabriel Landeskog's scouting report were promising for instant production. He was seen by most everybody as the most NHL-read prospect in the draft. He has good size already and is a mature player. So his ceiling wasn't believed to be incredibly high, the production was thought to be very good and consistent.

It might have taken him a little while, but now he's showing all of that. Check this out: With the Avalanche making a move to get back into the heart of the playoff race, Landeskog has been great of late. In the last five games he has four goals and four assists while averaging close to 20 minutes a night. Not bad for your first playoff race.

But he has some stiff competition that isn't far behind him at all.

Remember, this is just one man's opinion and there are sure to be disagreements. Feel free to share your thoughts (I know you won't disappoint there).

Award watch
Norris Calder
Erik Karlsson The Ottawa Senators have been the biggest surprise this season and Karlsson has been the biggest surprise for them. In addition to lapping the field in total points, he's also first among defensemen with 15 goals. The offense is just too overwhelming to ignore in his case. Gabriel Landeskog Knowing full well it is not the be-all, end-all of stats in hockey, especially today when advanced metrics are becoming more prevalent, but Landeskog has an impressive plus-22 on the season. That's 13th best in the league. Note: The Avs as a team are minus-5 this season. That has to say something.
Shea Weber Arguably the top all-around defenseman in the game, Weber is a perennial contender for this award, especially as long as he remains in Nashville with Barry Trotz. He's physical and responsible in his own end, explosive and dangerous in the offensive end. There's a reason (lots of them) teams would like to see him in free agency. Adam Henrique He exploded on the scene earlier this season playing with Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise in what became one of the better lines in the entire league. But he has cooled down, scoring just two goals and racking up five assists since Jan. 11. His slip combined with Landeskog's surge puts him here.
Nicklas Lidstrom The 41-year-old has won this award seven times. At age 41, he's going to be hard pressed to win an eighth, but that doesn't mean he isn't having a heck of a season. He's still a huge part of what the Red Wings do and is a quintessential two-way defenseman. It's hard to believe he's his age with how he plays. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Injuries have derailed his hopes here, to be sure. Points-per-game wise, he's the best among rookies with 15 goals and 23 assists in 43 games. But the fact that he played one game in January and then missed a few weeks in the middle of February has hurt his chances. He has come back with two goals and an assist in the last three, though.
Brian Campbell Without Campbell, there's no telling where Florida would be in the standings. He was the big acquisition of the summer by Dale Tallon and he's found his comfort zone after a scrutinizing time in Chicago. He is second among dmen in points and routinely plays close to 30 minutes a game for the Panthers. Matt Read Of all the rookies playing in Philadelphia this season -- and there are a lot -- Read has been the best, and probably the most surprising. The 25-year-old has 16 goals with 19 assists playing multiple roles for the Flyers. He also has only four minor penalties on the season with no majors. That counts for something.
Ryan Suter Still a bit overshadowed by his teammate Weber in Nashville, Suter is obviously no slouch. He'll be the most coveted free agent this summer if the Predators can't re-sign him. Like Weber he's a good two-way player who isn't as threatening in the offensive zone but can score. He has seven goals and 30 assists. Cody Hodgson He could be a dark horse in this race with his recent trade to the Sabres. In Vancouver he wasn't getting a lot of ice time being stuck between Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler but being in Buffalo could give him a shot to flourish. He has a good starting point with 16 goals and 17 assists despite averaging just 12:44 of ice time per game for the Canucks.

And for a quick look at the rest of the races we'll be checking in on every week.

Hart: Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Lundqvist, Claude Giroux

Vezina: Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, Brian Elliott

Jack Adams: Ken Hitchcock, Paul MacLean, John Tortorella

Selke: Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Kesler, Pavel Datsyuk

Top GM: Dale Tallon, Don Maloney, David Poile

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Comments

Since: Apr 3, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2012 9:00 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

mopar40- The Norris doesn't go to whoever plays the best D, it goes to the best overall defenseman----Well DUHHHH, THATS EXACTLY WHY KARLSSON WONT WIN IT lol. This guy gets the answer wrong to his own question lol. The answer to this question should be, your playing Van, who do you want to QB your blueline and stop the twins?? I honestly wouldn't even consider Karlsson for that task. 



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 8:33 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

I'm not using his points against him, I just don't get the focus on points from a defenseman. It makes no sense to me. As much as I love the Sens, Karlsson should not win the Norris.



Since: May 20, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2012 7:14 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

Because he's not the best defenseman in the league. He's a good defenseman who scores a lot. Big difference. He's not a slouch on defense anymore, and he's actually become a valuable asset on the blue line, but he's not the best in the league, and I think the Norris should reward defense if it's going to be an award for defenseman. I'd give it to Shea Weber. To his credit, Karlsson has improved tremendously, but I can't call him the best defender in the league. This is NOT an offensive award.
Eh, thanks for the reply!

I guess the part where I bolded it is where we're differing in views.  The Norris doesn't go to whoever plays the best D, it goes to the best overall defenseman, which is why I'd say that Karlsson's got the inside track. 

I know you said that it's 'NOT an offensive award', but at the same time, it's NOT (exclusively) a defensive award either.  So I guess that was basically my point earlier, is that there's no point in using Karlsson's points against him, simply because he scores a lot.  It's significantly harder for a defenseman to accumulate points as a defenseman, so for him to be as solid as he is defensively, and for him to be putting up such absurd numbers, I'd say it would be really hard to give it to anyone else.



Since: Feb 3, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2012 7:13 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

the norris is awarded to the best all-around d-man.  that doesnt' mean the guy who's best at playing defense, or the best at playing offense, but who is the best at everything.  I mean if we're just talking defense, then guys like weber and chara shouldn't be mentioned either, and the award should go to pure shutdown guys every year.  man, volchenkov would have had like 4 norris trophies while playing for the sens.

whether you like it or not, puck moving, shots from the point, PP qb, are as much part of a d-mans job as is clearing the front of the net or breaking up the 2 on 1.

Karlsson is a very good defensive player, and is so far ahead of everyone else offensively that it's laughable.  when looking at overall ability by a d-man, taking everything into consideration, karlsson wins (this year).



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 6:12 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

I couldn't agree with this more.  I think Karlsson's defensive contributions are overshadowed a bit by his offensive contributions, because he does play solid D.  However, the first job of any defensemen is to protect their team's zone, and he just isn't as good as other players that play the position.  There is an award for best defensive forward...why isn't there one for the other way around?  Maybe call it the Bobby Orr Award.
Agree totally, and Karlsson would be a shoo-in for such an award.



Since: May 16, 2011
Posted on: March 2, 2012 4:37 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

I'm a Leafs fan and therefore hate the Sens with an intense passion, but Karlsson shouldn't just win the Norris, he should be in serious discussion for the Hart as well. Lundqvist is having his typical amazing year, it's just that the Rangers have a good team this year as well, so I'm not sure why everyone is so high on him. Malkin is probably more deserving because of how he has carried the Pens, but in my mind, Karlsson is the most important player for his team and the Sens would probably be fighting for a playoff spot wothout him. This idea that he isn't very good but just scores a lot is the same argument that people made with Orr, Coffey, Borque, etc. Best player at his poition in the NHL right now, hands down.



Since: Nov 3, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:22 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

Im probably going to get a lot of hate for posting this...

but i think its dumb that Erik Karlsson is a 'shoe-in' for the Norris Trophy.


who is the Norris trophy awarded to? the best DEFENSEman, not the best offensive player that isn't a forward.

Karlsson is far and away the best offensive minded defenseman, but he is also FAR FROM being anywhere near being the best defensive player.


since the Norris trophy is supposed to go the best defenseman, i think it should go to someone that actually plays the best defense a la Shea Webber, Zdeno Chara (tho he's playing average lately)... those guys routinely play against, the stamkos, malkin, and sedins of the world and still shine... 

i think its more valuable to have a defender that can shut down an opposing team's top line, than a  defender that can put the puck in the net, afterall, thats the forwards job.
I couldn't agree with this more.  I think Karlsson's defensive contributions are overshadowed a bit by his offensive contributions, because he does play solid D.  However, the first job of any defensemen is to protect their team's zone, and he just isn't as good as other players that play the position.  There is an award for best defensive forward...why isn't there one for the other way around?  Maybe call it the Bobby Orr Award.



Since: Feb 3, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2012 2:47 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

St Louis was 6-7 when Hitchcock took over, and was in 14th place, and they looked like the team they had been the past few years.
so what you're saying is that because they got off to a slow start in the first 13 games, and hitchcock come in and got them playing the way they should be playing, that he deserves to be COY? 

I agree that payne was bad, but all hitchcock is doing is getting the team to play to its potential.

maclean, on the other hand, has ottawa playing SO FAR beyond expectations that it's almost not believable.

most early predictions had st louis around the 6-8 seed in the west, and they're 4th, so that's 2-3 spots ahead of where they were projected.

ottawa was projected by EVERYONE to finish dead last in the east, and they're in 6th, so 9 spots ahead of where they were projected to finish.


hmmmmmmmm, so why exactly does hitchcock win again?



Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 2:41 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

great comment, great points to back it up!  I like the contribution!



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 2:14 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

SkyHawk, you say you're a big time Sens fan, and go on to say it's a joke if he wins it?  Not trying to troll, just promote discussion, but... why?  And I'm not saying that you should blindly support Karlsson because of your team's allegiance, just simply curious as to why you don't feel he deserves the award, or who you think deserves it more?
Because he's not the best defenseman in the league. He's a good defenseman who scores a lot. Big difference. He's not a slouch on defense anymore, and he's actually become a valuable asset on the blue line, but he's not the best in the league, and I think the Norris should reward defense if it's going to be an award for defenseman. I'd give it to Shea Weber. To his credit, Karlsson has improved tremendously, but I can't call him the best defender in the league. This is NOT an offensive award. 


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com