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NHL Lines - And The Norris Goes To...

Posted by Elio Masi on 5/28/2012 2:42:12 PM

NHL Lines – And the Norris Goes To...

The James Norris Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the defensemen who best demonstrates throughout the NHL lines season the greatest all-round ability in the position. The winner is selected by a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season.

This year’s nominees are:
Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins
Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators

Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators.

Zdeno Goes for Two
Zdeno Chara is the only player in this year’s trio that has already won a Norris Trophy in his career. Chara has had a career year this season, setting highs in numerous statistical categories. He collected 40 assists during the regular season, the most he’s amazed in his career and added 12 goals for a total of 52 points, another career high. He’s lethal at the point for the Bruins and possesses the hardest slap shot in the NHL lines. With 8 of his goals coming on the powerplay, he’s teammates like to feed him the puck when they’re up a man and his team’s powerplay surely relies on him to quarterback them to success. However, his true strength is his defensive awareness. Going up against the best players in the NHL lines every night, he is expected to close off the slot and lead players to the outside, where he is truly dangerous at finishing his checks, using his tremendous size. He finished the year with a plus/minus of 33, tying the career high he set in both 2003-2004 and 2010-2011. He also led the NHL lines in the plus/minus category for defensemen, indicating he makes his presence felt when on the ice, something that comes a little easier at 6’9”.

Karlsson’s First Nomination
The leader amongst defensemen in goals, assists and shots, Eric Karlsson had quite the third season in the NHL lines. Karlsson’s personal improvements have just been outstanding and watching him progress has been truly amazing. He went from a minus 30 player last year to a plus 16 this year, a feat that is very difficult to do in a single offseason. Karlsson improved tremendously defensively and although he’s an offensive defensemen, he’s learnt how to excel in his own end this year. Karlsson set career highs in goals with 19, assists with 59 and points with 78. He also put the puck on net more than any other defender in the NHL lines with a total 261 shots, setting yet another career high. He was the best offensive defensemen during the regular season and the only one to earned the nomination, seeing how both Chara and Weber are defensive defensemen. Already being compared to the seventh time winner, Nicklas Lidstrom due to his Swedish heritage, the young Swede is sure have an amazing career ahead of him.

Weber Looking for Number One
Shea Weber made the nominee list for the second time in his career. Considered by many as the league’s best defensive defensemen, there’s no surprise that he made the list of nominees. Despite having a defensive mentality, the captain of the Nashville Predators is also capable of picking up points. His slap shot ranks second best by many in the NHL lines and the amount of power he is able to get behind it for someone of his stature is truly remarkable. Weber scored 19 times during the regular season and added 30 assists for a total of 49 points. He fired 230 shots on net and scored 10 times on the man advantage as well as twice when down a man. Weber earned a plus/minus rating of 21, setting a career high in the category. Where Weber excels most is his physical game. He led all nominees with 177 hits during the regular season and left many of his victims with multiple icepacks at the end of games. He hits often and hard, helping his team win battles and turnover the puck.

Elio’s Edge
Karlsson made this decision way too easy for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. He led all defensemen in goals, assists and points while being able to contribute greatly in his own end as well. He’s the heavy favorite to win the Norris and – barring a huge upset – he will. Karlsson is without a doubt the most entertaining defensemen to watch in the NHL lines and I look forward to seeing him in action come October. Should be quite the season for the young Swede who’s already been compared to one of the best defensemen of all time in Nicklas Lidstrom.

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