Erik Karlsson has a chance to win his second straight Norris Trophy and third since 2012, but a couple defensemen seeking their first prize stand in his way.
The Ottawa Senators captain was named a nominee for the league’s top blueliner award on Friday, joining Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty and Pacific Division rival Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks.
That Karlsson is yet again up for the award given to “defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position” comes as little surprise.
The Landsbro, Sweden native led the NHL with 66 assists, three more than Sharks center Joe Thornton. His 82 points were most by a rearguard and only Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane, Dallas Stars’ Jamie Benn and Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby finished ahead of him overall. Karlsson’s point total was also the most by a defenseman since 1995-96 when Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers had 85. He also led the NHL in ice time, playing all 82 games and averaging 28:58 – nearly half a game.
And those are just the traditional stats. Delving deeper into the numbers, Karlsson’s Corsi was 51.5 and his Corsi relative percentage of 7.1 was second to Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm among blueliners playing at least 10 games. This means the Senators attempted more than seven percent move shots with Karlsson on the ice than when he was on the bench.
Winning the Norris Trophy at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 22 would be old hat for Karlsson. Doughty, meanwhile, is trying to break his tradition of being a bridesmaid. Doughty finished third in voting in 2009-10 and was the runner up to Karlsson a year ago.
Doughty scored 14 goals and recorded 51 points in 82 games, finishing third in average ice time at 28:01. His Corsi was 58.9, the highest of any defenseman competing in at least 15 games. Los Angeles attempted 537 more shots than its opponents with Doughty on the ice at 5-on-5.
Burns, a first-time nominee, established Sharks franchise for blueliners with 27 goals, 48 assists, 75 points and 353 shots on goal. His goal total was the most by a rearguard since then-Washington Capital Mike Green had 31 in 2008-09. Like his fellow nominees, Burns didn’t miss a contest this season. His Corsi was 53.4.
(All advanced stats viaPuckalytics.com)