Sunday, Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks was named a finalist for the Norris Trophy, joining the Boston Bruins‘ Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators as the finalists for the award given to the best defenseman in the NHL. While all three players are well deserving of the award, Keith’s solid play in every aspect makes him the deserving winner of the award.
If you compare the three defensemen, you see two former winners of the award and another who has placed second twice. In 2008-09, Chara was the winner of the Norris Trophy, and in the following season Keith took home the award. That season, Weber finished second to him, before taking second the following season as well, this time to Erik Karlsson. These three are always among the NHL’s elite, and the award will definitely go to one of the best defensemen in the league period, not just for the season.
As we look at the stats, it’s not as much a toss-up, as it is a matter of preference. If you like goals, Weber is your man, scoring a league-high among defensemen, with 23. If you’re someone who likes points in general, kit goes to Keith, who finished second in the NHL behind only Karlsson, picking up 61, on the back of 55 assists, which tops defensemen. If you prefer +/-, which shows who was on the ice for the highest goal differential then you’d choose Chara who had a +25, tops among the three. But there’s only one player who put up a good showing in all three categories, and that’s Keith.
While Weber’s goal amount is great, he also finished with a -2 rating, meaning he was on the ice for more goals against than for. Even on a bad team like the Predators, that’s not Norris Trophy worthy. Chara led in that stat, as mentioned, but is also the lowest among the three candidates with 40 points. He also took the most penalty minutes among the three, with 66. Keith, however, doesn’t lag behind the other two in any category. His +22 rating puts him in the top 10 among NHL defensemen, while his low number of penalties and high amount of ice time combine to make him a major part of his team’s success.
While these facts might make him the “boring” candidate who isn’t the best at everything, yet is the worst at nothing, it proves that he is fit for the Norris Trophy, given to the best overall defenseman in the NHL.