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
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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.

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Comments

Since: May 20, 2009
Posted on: March 1, 2012 8:10 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

I have to admit, I'm really surprised the amount of negativity towards Karlsson and the fact that he's arguably the favourite to win the Norris.  I definitely understand the sentiment that he's certainly not the massive intimidating force that are the Chara's or the Weber's.  And I'll openly admit I'm a Sens fan, but for everyone saying that they deserve it more than Karlsson, why?  Is it because he's got 23 more points than the next closest defenseman?  (Which, BTW, is Brian Campbell, and no disrespect, but Brian Campbell and Norris never belong in the same sentence)  Just because a defenseman puts up points, doesn't make them any less of a successful defenseman..

It's like people are spiting Karlsson because he's so offensive-minded.  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?

The Norris is supposed to go to "the defensman who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability in the position".  I'm not going to sit here and tell you that Karlsson's clearly the best at every aspect of the game, not even close.  However, for someone to say that the guy's a slouch on defense is completely misguided.  As someone else mentioned, he logs 25 minutes a night, often times going up against the big guns.  He might not have the same sorta sexy name as Chara or Weber or Lidstrom, or have the same sort of intimidating style that I'd mentioned, but that doesn't make his defensive style any less effective.  He uses his speed amazingly well, and his stick-work is second to none.  I have a feeling a lot of this negativity is simply people seeing the amount of points, realizing it's only his 2nd full year in the league, and feeling he's a forward playing D, or that he needs to pay his dues before he takes home the hardware.

Maybe it's because I'm a sens fan, but I find it kind of ridiculous to have to justify how Karlsson should be the favourite for the trophy.  Maybe not the runaway, competition-free favourite that this article would have you believe, but still the favourite for the award.  To me, if Karlsson doesn't win, that would be the joke.




Since: Jun 8, 2009
Posted on: March 1, 2012 8:04 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

He's no longer a defensive liability, but best defenseman? No. I'm sorry, he's not there yet. Check back in a few years.
Could be sooner than that - wasn't he on the ice killing a penalty against the Bruins with 2min to go in a 1 goal game just the other night? If that doesn't speak volumes about the coach's confidence in him then what does? Karlsson plays a great puck possession game, and lets not forget that old adage - the best defense is a good offense, and THAT is Karlsson in spades.
 



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: March 1, 2012 6:49 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.
No, you're right. As much as I love Karlsson's assists and think he'll be a great player for us for a while, that is not what a defenseman is supposed to do. The Norris Trophy is not the Selke Trophy for defensemen, it is not meant to honor defensemen for their scoring. It is meant to honor the man who plays the position the best and plays it the way it is meant to be played. That is not Erik Karlsson.

I'm a huge Senators fan and love what we're doing this season, but Karlsson winning the Norris would be an absolute joke. He's no longer a defensive liability, but best defenseman? No. I'm sorry, he's not there yet. Check back in a few years.



Since: Apr 3, 2009
Posted on: March 1, 2012 6:46 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

I think it's ignorant, not to mention foolish, to say Karlsson is a "shoe in" for the award because "he's 23 points ahead of the second highest-scoring defenseman". This article did not mention ONE THING about the guy's DEFENSE. "So that one is pretty clear"-The only thing clear to me is whoever wrote this article doesn't know what the hell they are talking about. 



Since: Mar 5, 2010
Posted on: March 1, 2012 6:28 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

kimmo the finnish god should def be 1 of the 5 on here..




Since: Jan 16, 2007
Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:40 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

Just goes to show that now-a-days in any sport, no one gives a damn about defense, its all about offense.

It's a shame, the Media hypes up offense like crazy but rarely do they hype defensive plays unless its LeBron James chasing down a man and blocking a layup...

I also hate how the public 'eats it up' like mindless zombies obsessed..  look at the 2011 Bruins-- they literally had NO OFFENSIVE SUPERSTARS, NONE...  alot of solid players, but they won playing defense, and of course they have an all-world goalie. 



Since: Jan 16, 2007
Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:37 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.


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