Can the Kings’ Drew Doughty Win the Norris Trophy?

What’s the point of competing for a trophy if everyone gets a trophy? — Glenn Beck

This past Monday, the NHL announced the names of the three Norris finalists for 2014-15: Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings), Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators) and P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens). All three had fantastic seasons, with Karlsson and Subban leading their respective teams to playoff berths and Doughty’s Kings falling just short.

Whether or not you agree with Beck’s politics, the sentiment is accurate: trophies should be handed out to those truly deserving of the honor. All three finalists can make that claim this year, and then some.

That being said, the quote is on the money: they can’t all win the award, and both Karlsson and Subban have more gaudy offensive stats. Given that past winners are generally offensive powerhouses from the blue line, can Doughty overcome the odds and win the Norris Trophy this year?

The Norris Trophy

We all know what it is, but how exactly does the NHL characterize the award? Per

The James Norris Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the defenseman who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.

The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season. The trophy was presented in 1953 by the four children of the late James Norris in memory of the former owner-president of the Detroit Red Wings.

The trophy is named in honour of James E. Norris, owner of the Detroit Red Wings from 1932 to 1952. The trophy was first awarded at the conclusion of the 1953–54 NHL season.

The list of previous winners features some of hockey’s greatest names over the past 60 years, including Bobby Orr (eight straight years between 1968-75), Paul Coffey (three times), Ray Bourque (five times), Nicklas Lidstrom (seven times) and Brian Leetch (twice). It also includes both Karlsson (2012) and Subban (2013).

What constitutes the ‘greatest all-around ability’ at the position? There aren’t any stated absolutes, but the following nine areas are bound to be part of the equation:


The most traditional statistic on the board, goals are obviously a big consideration by the writers. The past five winners (Duncan Keith twice, Subban, Karlsson, and Nicklas Lidstrom) averaged 14 goals over that period, and that includes the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.

Karlsson (21) and Subban (15) clearly outpace Doughty (7) in goals. If Doughty fails to win this year, his substantially fewer number of tallies will be a large part of the reason.

Leader: Erik Karlsson.


P.K. Subban (James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)
P.K. Subban (James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)
Again, Doughty (39) is behind Karlsson and Subban (45 apiece), but the difference is negligible. All three have outstanding on-ice vision, are solid puck-movers, and quarterback their team’s power play.

Leader: the voters likely won’t split hairs. This category is close enough to be considered a draw.


Whether we like to admit it or not, optics are important. Karlsson’s 66 points were tops amongst NHL defensemen, followed closely by Subban (60). Doughty’s 46 points were the second-highest in his career, but that’s a pretty substantial gap.

Leader: Erik Karlsson.


It may be scoffed at these days as advanced stats have swept into the picture, but there’s that ‘optics’ thing again. Karlsson (+7) and Doughty (+2) really weren’t much different from one another, but Subban (+21) lapped them both, several times over.

Leader: P.K. Subban


This is the first category Doughty clearly wins, as he averaged an impressive 29:00 ice time per game. Subban (27:15) and Karlsson (26:12) were close, but no cigar.

The Slava Voynov situation forced Doughty to double and even triple-shift at times, elevating his total minutes.

Leader: Drew Doughty

Blocked Shots

Who laid their life (so to speak) on the line the most in order to stop the puck from reaching the net? Doughty (144) beat out Subban (142) in a close contest, with Karlsson (89) way behind.

Leader: Drew Doughty, by a nose.


Physicality can certainly be interpreted as part of the ‘all around’ depiction of a Norris winner. In this area, there’s no question who wins here: Drew Doughty (152).

Erik Karlsson (93) and P.K. Subban (97) ended up well behind the Kings defenseman.

Leader: Drew Doughty


(Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)
(Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)
The Kings are a recognized leader in analystics. Perhaps not coincidentally, so are many of their players. Doughty (329) is up there in iCorsi, finishing third amongst defensemen in the NHL.

But not first — Karlsson (396) achieved that honor. Subban (233) was well off the mark.

Leader: Erik Karlsson


Once again, Karlsson (26)) was the class of the league. Doughty (213) was fifth, and Subban (142) 34th overall.

Leader: Erik Karlsson

And the winner of this year’s Norris Trophy is …

We’ll find out June 24th, during the 2015 NHL Awards presentation held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

If the voting were done scientifically (it won’t be) and all the above categories were weighted equally (likewise), Erik Karlsson would ‘win’ four categories, Drew Doughty three, P.K. Subban one and assists would be a virtual tie.

Thus, the smart money is on Karlsson to win his second Norris Trophy this year, especially since he was the top scoring defenseman in the league. Or maybe not — sports writers are an unpredictable lot.

Who is your choice to win the Norris? Leave your thoughts below, or send them to @McLaughlinWalt.