The Norris Trophy finalists were announced early on Friday and the three candidates will surely bring about one of the closest races in the trophy’s history.
The three nominees are Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, and Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Doughty finished third in scoring among defensemen, behind Green and Keith, with 16 goals and 59 points in total. He played all 82 games for the Kings who made the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.
Of the three nominees, Doughty led the group with 157 hits.
“My first goal was just to play hard for the Kings and make them a playoff team and then get a shot at making the Olympic team,” Doughty told the LA Times after learning of his nomination. “As the season wore on, I kind of knew that I was getting mentioned in that category and from then on I made it my goal to hopefully be a finalist.”
If the 20-year-old Doughty were to win, it would make him the second youngest player ever to take home the award behind the great Bobby Orr.
This season marks Green’s second consecutive Norris Trophy nomination.
Green led all defensemen in goals (19) and assists (57). It is the third straight season that Green has led all defensemen in goals. His plus-39 rating was second to teammate Jeff Schultz and first among the nominated defensemen.
“When I went up and congratulated him this morning, he said all he wants is the Stanley Cup,” Coach Bruce Boudreau told the Washington Post. “So his head’s in the right area, but it’s a nice honor for him and a well-deserved honor.”
Green finished the season with 133 hits and 105 blocked shots.
Keith played all 82 games. He finished with 55 assists and 69 points, second in the league to Green.
While Keith’s 43 hits are by far the fewest among the three nominees, he does lead the group with an impressive 143 blocked shots.
“Just to be nominated is a huge honor,” Keith told the Chicago Tribune on Friday. “If you look at other people who have been nominated and other people who have won it, it’s a pretty special category and one that I’m very proud to be a part of.”
The 26-year-old Keith was second in the NHL in ice-time to only Joni Pitkanen, averaging 26:36 per game.
The three nominees are all dynamic players, and are all worthy of winning the prestigious award, but one player was certainly snubbed.
Chris Pronger, 35, had a phenomenal year with the Philadelphia Flyers and helped the team secure the seventh-seed on the final day of the season.
Of the three nominees, Pronger’s 25:56 average ice-time was better than that of both Green and Doughty, his plus-22 rating was second to only Green, and his 189 blocked shots were better than all three.
Pronger should not have taken anybody’s nomination, but perhaps a fourth nomination was in order.
Regardless, Doughty, Green, and Keith all bring different aspects to the defensive position, which should make the voting extremely tight.
The NHL awards will be presented on June 23 in Las Vegas.