Who's name will be engraved this year?
For the last week of the regular hockey season, the Aerys NHL writers have been revealing their picks for the NHL award categories. You can find the previous prognostics over on the side bar.
When we were asked which award we wanted to cover, my immediate thought went to the Selke Award, considering it was the only award that I really knew about, but as I looked into what the other awards stood for, I related the most to the Norris Trophy. The James Norris Memorial Trophy is awarded to the NHL’s best “defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability in the position.”
The Trophy itself is named after James E. Norris, a former Detroit Red Wings owner-president(1932-1952). The trophy was first awarded after the 1953-1954 season to former Detroit Red Wing, Red Kelly, by four of the late James Norris’ children.
The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association members have a poll at the end of the regular season where they decide who is worthy of this honor. They determine the defenseman that best exemplifies and excels in their position.
Boston Bruins’ great Bobby Orr, holds the record for winning the Norris trophy for eight consecutive years. (Can I get a whomp whomp Bruins fans?!) Ray Bourque, another Boston great also won the award five times.
Last year’s projected winner by Aerys: Nicklas Lidstrom(read more)
2010-2011 Winner: Nicklas Lidstrom, making him a seven-time Norris Trophy winner.
This year however, Lidstrom is not among the candidates of possible winners of the trophy. In fact, this year, the top three runners are:
Ottawa Senators: Erik Karlsson
Currently Karlsson leads all defenseman in the NHL with 77 points in 79 games played with 19 goals and 58 assists. This year he has been a key component to the Ottawa Senators and a big part of why they are in the playoff run. His ability to handle the puck and set plays up rather than dish it into the neutral or offensive zone is one of his strongest assets.
Boston Bruins: Zdeno Chara
The 6′ 9″, record-breaking slap shot, hard, heavy hitting giant is second in the NHL with 52 points, with a +33 rating. Chara’s ability to use his height and extremely hard slap shot are definitely two of his strongest attributes. As well as the fact that he leads by example on and of the ice, playing to win every game not for himself, but his teammates as well. In Chara’s last five games alone he has managed to post 7 assists for his team.
Florida Panthers: Brian Campbell
Brian Campbell isn’t a name that you hear very often, at least if you are from the North(in my defense). However, that doesn’t erase the fact that he has 52 points in 80 games played, registering only four goals, but 48 assists. While he may be a -10, he plays strong defensively which is what his position is all about, rather than how strong a defensive player can be offensively.
Now here comes the fun part, who does this particular Boston sports fan think will take home the trophy? Well, as much as I would love to say hands down, the 6’9″ giant will hoist it just like he did the Cup on June 15, 2011, I honestly can’t say I believe that. Erik Karlsson has had a VERY impressive year this year, his numbers speaking for him. Putting all numbers aside however, and watching this young man play, he is definitely deserving of this honor. As previously stated, the way he is able to slow a puck down and create plays is remarkable. I am going to have to swallow my pride with this one and say that Erik Karlsson has this one locked up this year.