Here is the description of the Norris Trophy, according to NHL.com:
The James Norris Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.
Karlsson simply was not the best all-around defenseman in the NHL this season, and certainly didn't have the success at both ends of the ice that finalists Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators did. Karlsson's impressive offensive numbers cannot make up for the fact that he was average on defense most nights.
Here are some interesting stats to consider when assessing Karlsson's case for the Norris:
- Karlsson led all defenseman in assists and points.
- Karlsson's plus-minus rating was 18, while Weber's was 21 and Chara's was 33.
- Chara had eight power-play goals and Weber had 11. Karlsson had only three.
- Chara and Weber had more ice time per game than Karlsson (at least 1:59 more).
- Weber had 91 blocked shots and Chara had 87. Karlsson had 65.
- Weber had 187 hits, Chara 166. Karlsson had only 60 hits.
- Chara's 52 points were a career high.
Chara and Weber are so difficult to play against all over the ice. If you ask any top NHL forwards who they would least like to play against out of this year's Norris finalists, I would be shocked if any of them said that they would rather face Weber or Chara over Karlsson.
Who should win the Norris?
Even though Karlsson's defensive game has taken great strides over the last two years, and he isn't "bad" on defense by any means, he still did not show the all-around ability at the position that is required to win this award.
There have been five Norris Trophy winners since 2000 (Nicklas Lidstrom, Duncan Keith, Chara, Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer), and all of them were very strong defensively.
At the end of the day, the Norris Trophy needs to go to the player who shows the best defensive ability at the position. After all, most teams pay these players for their defense, rather than their offensive capabilities.
When you take a complete look at the offensive and defensive aspects of the game, Weber and Chara both have stronger cases to win the Norris Trophy this year.
What do you think? Is Karlsson the Norris favorite? Should he even be a finalist for the award? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Nicholas Goss is a Boston Bruins Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston. He has covered the Boston Bruins first hand since the 2011 SCF.