5 Longshots for the 2022-23 Norris Trophy

If he hadn’t already, Cale Makar established himself last season as not only the best defenseman in the NHL but among the most elite hockey players in the world. Even with Roman Josi’s extraordinary 96-point season, Makar won the Norris Trophy. As the 2022-23 season approaches, it’s hard to imagine anyone supplanting one of these defensemen, or last year’s third-place finisher, Victor Hedman, for this season’s top defensive honors. But here’s a look at five longshots (as determined by Sports Betting Dime) who could.

Aaron Ekblad

Odds: +1200

Aaron Ekblad is an integral player for one of the best teams in the league, last season’s Presidents’ Trophy winners, the Florida Panthers. He has struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons, playing 35 games in the 2020-21 season and 61 in the 2021-22 season. The former first-overall pick from the Barrie Colts has seemed to improve every season of his career and finished his abbreviated season plus-38 and averaging 24:55 per game.

Aaron Ekblad Florida Panthers
Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Of course, everyone knows that offense plays a significant role in winning the Norris Trophy — some would argue too big a role. But Ekblad provides plenty of firepower and had almost a point per game last season, with 57 in his 61 appearances. If he’d finished a healthy 82-game season with the 76 points he was on pace for, he would have been fourth in points in the league. Doing that on a team that dominated the regular season would certainly make him a Norris Trophy contender. He finished sixth in voting even with the shortened season. 2022-23 could be his year.

Moritz Seider

Odds: +2500

Last season’s Calder Trophy winner, the Detroit Red Wings’ Moritz Seider, is certainly a longshot for the Norris Trophy, but don’t rule it out entirely. The Zell, Germany native took the league by storm last year, notching 50 points in 82 games as the soared to top rookie honors. The Red Wings have made a ton of moves this offseason and look like a fringe playoff team. A resurgent “Original Six” powerhouse led by Seider on the blue line? It’s easy to make a case for how that would appeal to Norris Trophy voters. There are a lot of contingencies there, but if they all fall into place, Seider could take home hardware in both of his first two NHL seasons.

Devon Toews

Odds: +2500

With Devon Toews by Makar’s side, the Colorado Avalanche have the best defensive tandem in the league. Like Ekblad, Toews has struggled to stay healthy and has never played more than 68 games in a season. But last season, in 66 games, he managed 57 points, was an absurd plus-52, and played 25:22 per game.

Related: Colorado Avalanche’s Devon Toews Emerging as Dark-Horse Norris Trophy Candidate

Toews’ biggest obstacle to being a serious Norris Trophy contender is the giant, Makar-shaped shadow he lives under in Colorado. It’s hard to imagine he can overcome that as long as his teammate stays healthy. But in the event that Makar missed an extended period of time (God forbid), Toews’ odds would immediately shoot higher. The narrative for voters to give him his day in the sun would be overwhelming. Even with a healthy Makar, though, Toews could always explode and earn consideration. He is truly that good.

Alex Pietrangelo

Odds: +3500

Alex Pietrangelo has never been a top-three finalist for the Norris Trophy, but he’s been in the top five three different times. Since joining the Vegas Golden Knights on a huge free agent contract, though, he hasn’t fully found his groove in his new home. Pietrangelo played 80 games and scored 44 points last season and was a plus-seven, playing 24:39 a night.

Alex Pietrangelo Vegas Golden Knights
Alex Pietrangelo, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With all that said, if Pietrangelo resurges to his former self, the version that captained the St. Louis Blues to the Stanley Cup in 2019, he will immediately be a Norris Trophy contender. With the Golden Knights, he has a chance to put up significant point totals. And if he’s the reason that Vegas reforms and returns to the postseason, voters will take a shine to him in a significant way.

Jaccob Slavin

Odds: +5000

Jaccob Slavin is inarguably one of the best defenders in the entire NHL. He consistently puts up elite defensive metrics and is always at the center of the conversation of top blueliners. So why has he never come close to winning a Norris Trophy? In a word: points. Slavin’s 42 points last season was a career-high, and that’s just not enough to compete with the Makars and Josis of the world. But if Slavin can ever jumpstart his scoring, he’ll immediately earn plenty of votes, especially from those voters who are already sympathetic to his plight. he’s justifiably a longshot, but stranger things have happened.

Who Did We Leave Out?

We’ve discussed five longshots for the 2022-23 Norris Trophy, but who do you think we missed? Who besides these five, and Makar, Josi, and Hedman, do you think will take home top defensive honors this season? Let us know in the comments!