Adam Fox, Roman Josi, Mark Giordano. These are the names of the most recent defencemen to be awarded the Norris Trophy. Since 1954, the Norris Trophy is awarded annually to the defenceman who “demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position”.
More often than not the voters select players who excel in the offensive side of the game, rather than defence. That being said, players who play well at both ends of the ice have a big advantage.
These players are in the top-tier of defensemen this season and are on the shortlist for Norris Trophy consideration, close to halfway through the season.
This will be the sixth year in a row of Norris Trophy consideration for the big Swedish defenceman. Hedman is currently tied for first place among all defensemen in points this season with 36 in 37 games.
Victor Hedman is a dominating force in all three zones of the ice. What makes him one of the best defencemen in the NHL is his ability to skate fluidly even with his massive frame. When teammate Nikita Kucherov was slated to miss the first part of the season with an injury, Hedman stepped up to the plate with increased offensive production.
If the 2021-22 season wasn’t absolutely filled with incredibly talented defencemen, Hedman would be a show-in for the award.
Fox burst onto the NHL scene with a remarkable 42-point performance in the COVID-19-shortened 2019-20 season. And to prove his rookie season wasn’t a fluke, Fox topped it up with a Norris Trophy-winning sophomore season.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Fox is the lifeblood of the New York Rangers right now. With only 161 games of NHL experience, he has already earned a Norris Trophy, a $66.5 million contract, and 125 career points.
As of this writing, Fox is in a dead-heat with Victor Hedman, at 36 points apiece. Since the Norris Trophy is not all about points, he will have to catch up to Hedman in the defensive zone to win his second straight Norris Trophy.
Like the previous two players on this list, Josi is hovering at a point-per-game. He is on track to set a career-high in points. Looking to repeat the success of his 2019-20 Norris winning season, Josi has taken the reigns in Nashville.
The Predators are currently in first place in the Central Division, in large part due to Josi’s brilliant play and leadership. Although the team has had their struggles at the centre position and at producing offence, it has never fazed Josi.
At 31-years-old, Josi is still one of the best defencemen in the NHL and if he keeps it up the rest of the year and stays healthy, he could be a candidate for the Norris Trophy.
Ironically, Makar is likely the most skilled player on this list, but he’s the only one who has not won a Norris Trophy in his young career. He has been on an absolute tear this season and does not seem to be letting up at all.
Through 27 games, Makar has 15 goals and 30 points, which puts him in first place among defensemen in goals and points-per-game. At this rate, he is scoring at an 82-game pace of 46 goals and 91 points. That would put him near the all-time goal-scoring record for defencemen, originally set by Paul Coffey in 1985-86.
As long as Makar stays healthy this year, he should be a lock for the Norris Trophy, based on his skills alone. He will be an important piece for the Avalanche in the playoffs as they attempt to win their first Stanley Cup since 2000-01.
All of these players are having seasons deserving of a Norris Trophy nomination. This year will be one of the hardest for the voters in recent memory. There is a real chance the NHL will have three or more defencemen score 70+ points for the first time since 2016-17.