• 26 June 2024
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Analyzing the Finalists for the Norris Trophy

Analyzing the Finalists for the Norris Trophy

The Norris Trophy is awarded annually to the top defenseman in the NHL, as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. This season, the finalists are Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks, Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators, and Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche. The award will be presented during the NHL Awards on June 27 at the Fontainebleau in Las Vegas (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN). NHL.com writers Adam Kimelman, Mike Zeisberger, and Mike G. Morreale debate the merits of each finalist in this Awards edition of State Your Case.

Quinn Hughes: The Vanguard of Vancouver

Exceptional Performance

Quinn Hughes had an outstanding season for the Vancouver Canucks, a team that many did not expect to finish second in the Western Conference. As the team’s captain, Hughes played a pivotal role by leading all defensemen with 92 points, including 75 assists and 17 primary power-play assists. He averaged a team-high 24:41 of ice time over 82 games, contributing significantly to Vancouver’s impressive 50-23-9 record, their first 50-win season since 2011-12.

Historic Achievements

Analyzing the Finalists for the Norris Trophy: NHL
Image by : Yandex

Hughes’ achievements are not just season-specific but also historic. He became the sixth defenseman in NHL history to record at least 92 points in a season by the age of 24 or younger. He also had nine games with at least three assists, a feat only matched by Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque in a single season. Furthermore, Hughes is already second on the Canucks’ all-time scoring list among defensemen with 333 points in 365 games, trailing only Alexander Edler.

Advanced Metrics

Hughes’ impact is also evident in advanced metrics. Vancouver controlled 56.4% of all shots generated 5-on-5 when Hughes was on the ice, a percentage higher than those of fellow finalists Makar (52.8%) and Josi (53.4%). These stats underline Hughes’ critical role in the Canucks’ overall gameplay and his exceptional hockey IQ.

Roman Josi: The Backbone of Nashville

Season Overview

Roman Josi had a remarkable season, leading NHL defensemen with 23 goals and ranking third with 85 points. His even-strength goal differential was plus-14, and he averaged 20:17 of even-strength ice time, ranking 10th among defensemen who played at least 10 games.

Leadership and Impact

Josi’s influence extended beyond his stats. Nashville started the season with a 5-10-0 record in their first 15 games, but Josi’s contributions helped turn their fortunes around. In the final 67 games, he recorded 74 points (20 goals, 54 assists) with a plus-20 even-strength goal differential, leading the Predators to a 42-20-5 record. Josi was instrumental in their push to the playoffs, amassing 36 points in the final 28 games as Nashville went 20-5-3.

Pivotal Role

Josi’s ability to influence both ends of the ice was crucial for the Predators. His efforts in setting up key goals and preventing opponents from scoring were vital in ensuring Nashville’s playoff appearance, marking him as one of the most impactful defensemen in the NHL this season.

Cale Makar: The Dynamic Force

Statistical Excellence

Cale Makar’s season was highlighted by his dominance in several statistical categories. He led all defensemen in points per game (1.17) and power-play points (39), and ranked second in goals (21), assists (69), and points (90), despite playing five fewer games than his fellow finalists.

Beyond the Numbers

Analyzing the Finalists for the Norris Trophy: NHL
Image by : Yandex

Makar’s brilliance goes beyond statistics. His ability to skate effortlessly, control the pace of the game, and his speed-induced fear among opponents set him apart. He became the second-fastest defenseman in league history to reach 300 points, achieving the milestone in just 280 games, one game shy of Bobby Orr’s record.

Game-Changing Presence

Makar’s impact is not just measurable by his stats but also by his on-ice presence. His ability to dictate the flow of the game and his offensive prowess make him a standout defenseman, one who is often mentioned in the same breath legends like Bobby Orr.

Conclusion

The Norris Trophy finalists this season, Quinn Hughes, Roman Josi, and Cale Makar, each bring unique strengths and exceptional performances to the table. As the NHL Awards approach, the debate continues on who  crowned the top defenseman in the league.