Who are the frontrunners for the Norris Trophy?

Updated: February 14, 2015 at 7:30 am by Cam Lewis

We’re into the final stretch of the season, and as playoff races heat up, so do the races for individual awards. As it sits right now, this is a really close race. The pack is being led by a combination of familiar faces who always seem to be in the discussion for the league’s top defenceman, but a duo from Calgary has broken into the pack. While there have been a whole bunch of really strong performances from defencemen this season, these five players seem to stand out more than others.

Let’s take a look

Like I said before, this is a really tight race. There’s a lot of really good defencemen in the league and there are a lot of guys who have put up some really impressive seasons so far. It feels kind of weird leaving guys like P.K. Subban, Ryan Suter, and Kris Letang out of this conversation considering some of the numbers they’ve put up and the amount of tough minutes they log game in, game out. Another thing I found really interesting was the fact all but two players who have ever won this award have been inducted to the Hall of Fame. The two exceptions are Randy Carlyle and Doug Wilson, who won in the early 1980s. Does that mean P.K. Subban and Erik Karlsson are going to be Hall of Famers? If Mark Giordano wins this year, is he going to be a Hall of Famer? That’s a totally different animal that I’m not even going to dive into. What it does suggest, though, is that the Norris Trophy is a really prestigious award and a player is in tremendous company when they win it. Everybody knows that though, so let’s take a quick look at the numbers. 

5. T.J. Brodie: 

Games played: 55

Goals: 8

Assists: 25

Points: 33

Offensive point shares: 2.7

Defensive point shares: 5.1

Point shares: 7.8

Time on ice per game: 25:11

Advanced Stats at 5 on 5

GF%: 57.7

CF%: 47.1

Opponent’s GF60: 2.31

Opponent’s CF60: 55.70

PDO: 103.8

Offensive zone starts: 41.2%

4. Duncan Keith: 

Games played: 54

Goals: 7

Assists: 24

Points: 31

Offensive point shares: 2.5

Defensive point shares: 4.2

Point shares: 6.7

Time on ice per game: 25:45 

Advanced Stats at 5 on 5

GF%: 60.5

CF%: 56.8

Opponent’s GF60: 2.30

Opponent’s CF60: 54.71

PDO: 101.6

Offensive zone starts: 55.9%

3. Drew Doughty: 

Games played: 54

Goals: 5

Assists: 27

Points: 32

Offensive point shares: 2.1

Defensive point shares: 3.1

Point shares: 5.3

Time on ice per game: 28:45

Advanced Stats at 5 on 5

GF%: 51.7

CF%: 57.1

Opponent’s GF60: 2.28

Opponent’s CF60: 54.6

PDO: 98.2

Offensive zone starts: 52.7%

2. Shea Weber: 

Games played: 55

Goals: 13

Assists: 26

Points: 39

Offensive point shares: 3.9

Defensive point shares: 4.3

Point shares: 8.2

Time on ice per game: 28:27

Advanced Stats at 5 on 5

GF%: 62.3

CF%: 49.7

Opponent’s GF60: 2.37

Opponent’s CF60: 55.5

PDO: 102.6

Offensive zone starts: 44.6%

1. Mark Giordano: 

Games played: 55

Goals: 11

Assists: 33

Points: 44

Offensive point shares: 4.3

Defensive point shares: 4.2

Point shares: 8.5

Time on ice per game: 25:07

Advanced Stats at 5 on 5

GF%: 52.6

CF% : 47.8

Opponent’s GF60: 2.30

Opponent’s CF60: 55.7

PDO: 101.8

Offensive zone starts: 41.7%

Defencemen are really hard to break down using numbers, I find. Regardless, I think Brodie, Keith, Weber, Doughty, and Giordano have particularly stood out over their peers this season. 

I’ll start off with Brodie, who leads the league in defensive point shares with 5.1. Brodie doesn’t have great basic possession numbers, as his CorsiFor percentage is only 47.1. On top of that, his team has 57.7% of the goals scored when he’s on the ice, which is really impressive, but he also has a PDO of 103.8, which suggests he may be the beneficiary of really good puck-luck. Regardless, this has been a fantastic breakout season for Brodie, and I’m sure Flames fans are ecstatic with the performance him and Giordano have put together this season.

Duncan Keith is putting together another Duncan Keith season. It’s difficult to ignore the fact he has a CF% of 56.8 and a GF% of 60.5, which suggests his team does really, really well when he’s on the ice. The problem for Keith, though, is the fact that he makes 55.9% of his starts in the offensive zone. Obviously you can’t be too critical of him for that, he does play for the Chicago Blackhawks, who are in the offensive zone a lot more than they aren’t. Drew Doughty and Shea Weber stack up slightly better than Keith because they play around three more minutes a game. Doughty has an impressive CF% of 57.1 and a GF% of 51.7 that becomes even more impressive when put in the context of his awful puck-luck this season. 

When it’s all said and done, I think Shea Weber may be the one taking home the hardware, but right now, it has to be Mark Giordano. Giordano has 44 points and 8.5 point shares in 55 games despite having mediocre basic possession stats. It’s undoubtable that Giordano has been a key reason why the Flames have been this year’s Cinderella story, and if he keeps it up, and they end up making the playoffs, it’s going to be really, really tough for anybody to vote against him.