The NHL announced the three finalists for the 2016 Norris Trophy on Friday evening. San Jose’s Brent Burns, Los Angeles’s Drew Doughty and Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson will be the competitors for the trophy honoring the NHL’s best defenseman of the 2015-16 season.
Burns not only impressed voters with his beard growth, he had a very impressive offensive season. He led all defensemen with 27 goals and his 75 points were second only to Karlsson. Both marks are career highs for Burns. He also led all defensemen in power play points with 30.
Additionally, his 353 shots is a huge accomplishment for a defenseman. He finished second in the league only to Alex Ovechkin. That mark is also tied for the seventh most shots a defenseman has ever taken in a single season. He’s the only player in the top nine seasons all-time not named Bobby Orr or Ray Bourque. It’s the most since Bourque’s 1995-96 campaign.
This is the first time Burns has been a Norris finalist and the third time he’s received votes. His 2.66% score-adjusted CF%Rel ranked 43rd among league defensemen.
Doughty is a Norris finalist for the third time in his career and second straight year. After playing all 82 games for the second straight year, Doughty finished with 14 goals and 51 points. Both are the second highest mark he’s ever posted.
Doughty’s 4.41% score-adjusted CF%Rel ranked 18th among NHL defenseman and was the best mark on the Kings. However, his 44.58 Corsi Against per 60 minutes is the third lowest of any defenseman and he played significantly more minutes than the first two players on the list.
Karlsson led all NHL defensemen in points with 82 and 62 assists. Considering the era, his point per game mark is quite a feat. No defenseman has hit a point per game pace in a full 82-game season since Bourque and Brian Leetch did it in the 1995-96 season. Niklas Lidstrom hit 80 points in 80 games in 2005-06 and Mike Green posted 76 points in 75 games during the 2009-10 campaign.
Additionally, Karlsson had some very good defensive numbers, with a 7.22% score-adjusted CF%Rel, which ranked fourth among NHL defenseman and first among Norris finalists.
The winner of the Norris Trophy will be revealed on June 22 at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.