As the regular season winds down, it’s finally that time of the year that we start looking at who should be considered for individual awards. Roman Josi won the Norris Trophy in 2020 and is arguably having himself a season that is deserving of that award again. The trophy seems to be a highly debated topic when it comes to winners and candidates every season. Some say offensive production shouldn’t factor in as much as it has, while others argue it should. Well, the description of who should receive the Norris Trophy is simple. It goes to the top “defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.” That being said, both defensive and offensive production plays a significant role in who will receive this award when the season comes to a close.
Past Norris Trophy Winners
Looking back at the past four award winners (Adam Fox, Roman Josi, Mark Giordano, and Victor Hedman), all four players produced heavily on offense while still being highly productive in their own zone. For example, Fox finished this past season plus-19 in 55 games while racking up 47 points (5 goals, 42 assists). In the previous season, Josi finished the season with a plus/minus of plus-22 with 65 points (16 goals, 49 assists).
The advanced stats aren’t something that jump into everyone’s minds when looking at just the numbers. These stats include shifts, share of ice-time, time on ice, rebounds created, and a lot more. These statistics can help show the voters more of what a player is doing while on the ice and the production outside of scoring. So, let’s look into whether or not Josi is deserving of this season’s Norris Trophy.
We all have heard and seen that Cale Makar seems to be the clear frontrunner for the award this season. I’m not here to say he isn’t, however, I am saying this isn’t as black and white as it may seem. Looking at offensive production to this point in the season, Josi has 75 points (17 goals, 58 assists), and Makar is sitting at 69 points (22 goals, 47 assists). Those are incredible numbers put up by two of the best defensemen in the game.
Jumping into the advanced offensive stats, let’s compare a few things here, created goals is an advanced stat used to show how many of the team’s total goals were created by the player for the team. This is a helpful stat when looking to see how much offense has been produced by an individual player. Also, we can look at rebounds created, another one of those pesky advanced stats, but helpful because it will let us know a little bit more about offensive production and chances created. One more offensive stat to look at is how many of these assists were primary assists. Why is this important? It shows us that more of Josi’s points have come from his vision at the point and selecting the right place to put the puck for immediate scoring chances. There is much more to it than just these few stats in the table but let’s move onto defensive production.
|Player||Goals||Assist||Points||Created Goals||Rebounds Created||Primary Assist||Secondary Assist|
We will go with a stat that could be considered offensive or defensive to start. Depending on how you want to look at it, that stat would be plus/minus. How important is this stat, though? Devon Toews has led in this category for the past three years, and we never hear Toews’ name come up in conversations for the Norris. Obviously, it’s an important stat, but it’s not one that really explains individual play like we are looking at here. Next up are takeaways and giveaways. This is especially important in the defensive zone when considering a winner for the trophy. In this category, you can see Makar holds the edge in giveaways, whereas Josi has the upper hand in takeaways.
Now onto ice time. This is an important stat because, as we all know, the best defensemen in the league always put up the high ice time numbers. Josi has played two more games to date than Makar so with this stat, you can assume its basically dead even. In addition, players average right around 25 minutes on the ice each night. Another extremely close stat is the share of possible ice time. This one looks at the percentage that a player holds out of the overall possible time on ice in the player’s position. As you can see below, it’s another very close race in the numbers category. The last stat I want to look at is a pretty important one for defensemen, blocked shots. Josi has blocked 98 shots, whereas Makar has only blocked 55.
|Player||Games Played||plus/minus||Takeaways||Defensive Zone Giveaways||Time on Ice||Time on Ice Per Game||Share of Possible Ice Time||Blocked Shots|
In a season with so many deserving players, does Josi deserve to win the Norris Trophy? Absolutely he does, but Makar does as well. It’s safe to say that the two defensemen compared here are the front runners and if recency bias comes into play, Josi has put up much better numbers than Makar down this final stretch of the season, especially during the month of March. Josi just finished his fourth game in a row where he put up at least three points and the only other defenseman to accomplish that feat was the great Bobby Orr who put up at least three points in six consecutive games during the 1970-71 season. We will see on Monday night in Anaheim if he can keep the streak alive and further make his case to win the second Norris Trophy of his career.
All advanced stats were retrieved from MoneyPuck.
Born and raised in Colorado and transplanted into the south. I have been a student of the game since my youth. After spending the past year as a credentialed writer covering minor league hockey in the SPHL, I decided it was time to further pursue my writing career and join The Hockey Writers. Covering all things Nashville Predators, striving to put out the best content possible!