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.


Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:32 pm

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

Karlsson is an absolute lock . The guy is having one of the best years any defenseman has had for decades. No debate , no argument , he deserves it  100 % . I'll take his defensive abilities over Charas any day of the week. The guys a stud.

In the coaching department , wow thats a tough one.  While both Hitcxhcock and Torts have done a fantastic job and would win any other year> I have to give the nod to McLean. He has taken a team who , basically everyone predicted would be dead last and has them vying for first with the B's .
I wouldnt be surprised or upset though if Hitchcock or Torts wins  , but I would be absolutelty stunned if Karlsson doesnt.

Nugent Hopkins would have ran away with the Calder if it were not for injuries but thats hockey .
I like the kid from Carolina who is having a great year with a so so team. But its hard for a D man to win the calder .

Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:11 pm

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

why?  st louis was SUPPOSED to make the playoffs and be a competitive team.  the sens were picked by EVERYONE to be dead last in the league
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.  He took them from 6-7, to 34-11-7. Halak had been reeling, off to the worst start of his career, and he turned him around, and now he's nearly unbeatable.  Plus, in his 52 games, they've given up more than 3 goals only 3 times.  Under Payne, it happened 4 times in 13 games.  Plus, the Blues Penalty Kill went from 27th under Payne, to 10th under Hitchcock

Under Davis Payne, this team would be in 10th or 11th place, and way off the pace they are now.   Hitchcock hands down should win the Jack Adams. 

Since: Feb 3, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2012 10:39 am

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

while i think Maclean and Tortorella have both done a good job this year i think Hitchcock will run away with the Jack Adams trophy this year

why?  st louis was SUPPOSED to make the playoffs and be a competitive team.  the sens were picked by EVERYONE to be dead last in the league.

taking a team that was supposed to be a playoff team, and have them a little higher in the standings is not as impressive as taking a team who was supposed to be AWFUL, and have them in 6th place.

the order should be  -   maclean, hitchcock, tippett.

Since: Mar 2, 2012
Posted on: March 2, 2012 9:32 am

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

while i think Maclean and Tortorella have both done a good job this year i think Hitchcock will run away with the Jack Adams trophy this year

Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 9:23 am

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

Maybe Carl Hagelin should be in the discussion also?

NHL's fastest skater
11 goals, 16 assists, 27 points

Should he win- of course not, but he should at least be in the discussion 

Since: Aug 15, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 7:58 am

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

I understand the Press and writers are all about scoring and that is what they are looking for in the Calder.  However, there is a Rookie Playing in Carolina that needs to be mentioned when speaking of the Calder Trophy.

That player is Justin Faulk:

Justin is a 19 year old Defensemen and here is his stats among other Rookie D'men in the league:

2nd in scoring

1st In TOI - averaging 22.48 minutes a game

1st in Goals Scored

5th in Assist

1st in PP Points

1st in Shifts per Game

I think most of us would acknowledge that it is easier for a 19 year old forward to break into the league, on a top line, than it is for a 19 year old Defensemen, to not only break into the league but to move into your top paring on the ice.  His plus/minus isn't great, it's -9 as of today, but considering the season the Hurricanes have had, that isn't that bad. 

Am I saying Justin should win?  No, but I am saying when the CBS writers leave Justin out of the conversation for the Calder, they I want to know what the hell they have been watching all season because they haven't evaluated all the Rookies in the league that's for sure. 

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2012 2:14 am

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

ryan mcdonough should be on here for the norris

Since: Oct 11, 2007
Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:31 pm

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

I don't know what all the debate is about.  Karlsson WILL win the Norris, it is guaranteed.  Even if he was injured for the rest of the season right now, he would still win the Norris, that is how good his season has been.  

Next question? 

Since: Sep 6, 2007
Posted on: March 1, 2012 8:22 pm

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

Norris: <br /><br />1. Lidstrom - Ageless wonder, smartest guy on the ice, still plays hard minutes vs. other teams top lines and boasts a +25 and his team is in first place in the toughest division in the league and I think that matters.<br />2. Weber - Imposing threat on offense and defense.  Will win this award in the next 3 years.<br /><br />Suter, and Karlsson are knocking on the door.  Chara been off a bit this year but otherwise a contender.  Campbell is a reach at -8.<br /><br />Calder:<br /><br />If Landeskog doesn't win I'll be shocked.  That kid has a complete game and could be wearing the "C" in the very near future.  The others are all nice players, especially Read, but still behind GL.<br /><br />Hart: <br /><br />Tough to deny what Lundquist and Malkin are doing this year.  <br /><br />I think he got the Selke candidates right.  Datsyuk continues to amaze.<br /><br />Amazing that Ken Holland is never mentioned as top GM.  He has kept the Red Wings at the top consistently with and without a salary cap.  That's a lot harder than a 1 year turn around that could be an anomaly anyway.  Heck, this award could practically be name the Ken Holland award.<br />

Since: Feb 3, 2009
Posted on: March 1, 2012 8:13 pm

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

man, people actually need to watch a sens game.  you guys who claim that karlsson can't play defense are simply looking at his gawdy point totals, and pulling an assumption out of your a$$.  the guy is a top pairing D-man, who plays against the other teams top lines every game.  positionally, he is one of the better d-men in the league, his stick work is second to none, and he skates faster and better than any other d-man in the league, allowing him to make defensive plays that NOBODY else in the league can make.

oh, not to mention the fact that he's in the friggin top 10 in league scoring.

instead of generalizing, based on absolutely NOTHING but speculation, try, i don't know, ACTUALLY WATCHING HIM PLAY!!!

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