The Norris Trophy might be a little easier to come by now that Nicklas Lidstrom has hung up the skates. Lidstrom won the Norris Trophy 7 times in his last 11 seasons in the NHL. Last year, P.K. Subban of the Montreal Candadiens went home with the valued hardware given to the league’s most outstanding defenseman. Subban enters this season hoping to be the first since Lidstrom to win the trophy back to back, but he has a lot of skilled competition he’ll have to outplay along the way. After all, we are playing a full 82 game season this year.
1. P.K. Subban stepped up his game this last season, he recorded 38 points, a career high, in 42 games. Subban’s physicality makes him a great weapon on the blue line. His big body, and ability to hit is remarkable. Subban’s offensive ability makes him even more of a threat. Subban is entering the final year of his two year deal, and will be looking to play well on the ice to earn a big payday next summer.
2. Erik Karlsson is back this season and he’s healthy. Karlsson’s one of the league’s best young defenseman. He’s a great skater, and an amazing offensive threat on the blue line. He was a favorite for the Norris early last season, until his injury cut his season short. He’s a skilled player and should be able to bounce right back and have another great season. Karlsson won the Norris in 2012, and looks to bring it home again next summer.
3. The big man in Boston is back again, and even at the age of 36 Zdeno Chara is showing no signs of slowing down his play in the defensive end for the Boston Bruins. Chara’s a monster, one of the most intimidating defenders in the NHL standing at 6-9. Chara continues to put up numbers, even at full strength, and continues to be one of the league’s premier shut down defenders, making Boston even more dangerous with one of the league’s best goalies behind him.
4. Ryan Suter took his time adapting to hockey in Minnesota, but once he did, he showed he was still the defender that earned the 13 year, $98 million (eeeeeek) contract. Suter is one of the best at the league at shutting down opponents. Suter, unlike every one else on this list thus far, has yet to win a Norris Trophy. If Suter can play like he did once he settled in, all season long, he could easily be a finalist, or even the winner next season.
5. As well as his ex-teammate, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber took a while to get going last season. But Weber found his game, and began putting up points, and playing defense with the brute force that we all know he loves. Weber is a huge body on the blue line for the Predators, and he uses it to his advantage to punish his opponents. Weber is another of the NHL’s most intimidating defenders. He’s a great defenseman and looks to win his first Norris Trophy.
6. Kris Letang is a gifted skater, and a great defender. But, we all saw him fall apart last season. Letang needs to find his game again and stay consistent, and healthy. If he does, he has a great chance of winning it this season, after being a finalist last season. Letang plays on the league’s most skilled team, and has plenty of weapons, making it that much easier to rack up a ridiculous amount of points. If he can play strong in the defensive end, he could be the proud owner of a new trophy come next summer.
7. Drew Doughty didn’t play as well as Kings fans would have liked to see from him last season, but we all know what he has the ability to be named with the league’s best defenseman. If he can get his game together and stay consistent this season, he could find himsel at the podium next summer. Doughty also has one of the best goalies in the league behind him, and having a goalie you trust behind you can make your job much easier in the sense of confidence.
8. Duncan Keith may need a little more time to out live the suspension he received in the Conference Finals last season for smacking Jeff Carter in the face with his stick, but we all can’t deny that he’s a great defenseman, and he puts up a decent amount of points from the blue line. Playing on the Blackhawks gives Keith a huge advantage in the points department. He has the ability to play with the best of them, and if the Blackhawks play as well as they did last season, he deserves to state his case as a Vezina finalist.
Tags: Boston Bruins Chicago Blackhawks Drew Doughty Duncan Keith Erik Karlsson Kris Letang Los Angeles Kings Minnesota Wild Montreal Canadiens Nashville Predators Norris Trophy Favorites Ottawa Senators P.k. Subban Pittsburgh Penguins Ryan Suter Shea Weber Zdeno Chara