It’s almost impossible to pick a winner for the Norris Trophy. With three worthy contenders in Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, and P.K. Subban fighting to be named the NHL’s best defenseman, the decision won’t come easy.
However, like the Calder Trophy nominees there is a slight controversy as to the who the third finalist should be. It’s safe to say that Subban and Karlsson deserve to be in the mix. Both scored 60 or more points on the season, and collected 45 assists apiece. The only defender with more helpers than Subban and Karlsson was New York Rangers blue-liner, Keith Yandle.
Then you have Drew Doughty, who by all means isn’t a bad choice for the Norris Trophy, it’s just not a smart one. Scoring numbers amongst defenseman don’t necessarily mean a player is the odds on favorite for the Norris Trophy. (Doughty finished 14th amongst the players at his position with 46 points.) Some say Doughty is the best defender in hockey, and his point totals don’t really take into account his impact on the Los Angeles Kings.
However, being placed as a finalist over the likes of Roman Josi, John Carlson, Keith Yandle and Kris Letang is puzzling. Of the aforementioned defenseman, Doughty is the only one to not make the playoffs. While the Kings lack of a postseason berth hardly falls on Doughty’s shoulders, there really isn’t a good reason to place him ahead of the four that are indeed playing playoff hockey.
If you take +/- into account, three of the four have higher ratings than Doughty. Of course, the Kings didn’t have the team the others did, but why reward a player that has less points and a rating of +3? Roman Josi scored 55 points and was +15. John Carlson scored 55 points and was +11. Both Carlson and Josi made the playoffs. Are you starting to see a trend?
The decision to place Doughty as a finalist is likely due to his gaudy 29 minutes of ice time every game. However despite his increased ice time, Doughty didn’t preform better statistically than the aforementioned candidates. There is a reason no defenseman has won the Norris Trophy after missing the playoffs, you need to win!
Doughty has had a stellar season for the Kings this year. Although, he just doesn’t measure up to some of the other worthy candidates.