Will Weber Be Unfairly Denied Norris Trophy?

Shea Weber is an elite defenseman for the Nashville Predators. That is a statement that cannot be argued against. He is also currently the highest paid player in the National Hockey League. I wrote about him in my list of the highest paid players and concluded he is well worth the contract he has with the Predators. He is set to make $14,000,000 this year. He is captain of the

Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators
(John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Preds and is having a very good season. Barring anything unforeseen, he should be the leading candidate for the Norris Trophy.

Weber or not

Last year, the headline at The Tennessean screamed, “Shea Weber denied Norris Trophy for Third Time.” Weber finished third behind winner Duncan Keith and second place Zdeno Chara. His third place finish among the vote-getters was actually a step down from his previous two considerations for the Norris. He finished second behind Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings in 2011 and behind Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators in 2012.

Will this season result in his finally winning the votes of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association for the Norris Trophy? There is still a lot of season left, but I maintain that if the season ended today, Weber should finally win and be recognized for his elite play. He is certainly surrounded by a team that has other elite players, and they are each doing their part to put the Predators in a position to make a deep playoff run. But, Shea Weber is wearing the “C” and deservedly so.

Weber grilling

A Weber grill is considered by many who love to cook out in the summer as the class of the grill industry. They cost a lot but are worth the investment for a consistently good grilling result. Shea Weber costs a lot, but is also bringing a consistently good result to Nashville. He heated up nicely against the St. Louis Blues Tuesday night with two goals to lift the Predators over the Blues, 3-2. He had been cold over the past 16 games, not having scored during that time. His first goal against Brian Elliott was fairly textbook in its execution as the Blues left Weber wide open to receive the puck:

That goal makes hockey look easy. St. Louis seemed to forget about the lurking Predators’ defensemen, and Olli Jokinen came around the net, passed the puck to a waiting Weber and the game went from 0-0 to 1-0 Nashville just like that.

Weber heated up once again in the third period with the score knotted up at 2-2. At 9:02, with St. Louis on the power play, Roman Josi got loose with Weber. A perfect pass from Josi and Weber laced the puck into the net for the shorthanded game-winning goal:

The two goals raised Weber’s point total to 25 on the season – 5 goals and 17 assists. He registered two hits and 25:04 minutes on the ice. After the game, he had this to say about the game-winner:

“They had one guy back. It was a huge hole. I think everyone was kind of collapsed at the net. Honestly I thought too, I was like, ‘Should I really go?’ But it worked out, so we’re lucky.”

As mentioned above, Shea Weber has been in a bit of a scoring slump. His two goal night against the Blues may be what the doctor ordered for getting him out of that slump. If so, look out. Weber heating up could mean serious headaches for opposing goalies and their teams. We’ll find out what he’ll be cooking up for the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

Norris Who?

Serious hockey fans know that the Norris Trophy, named for James E. Norris, owner of the Detroit Red Wings from 1932 to 1952, is presented to the NHL defenseman who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position. (Nice insight on the Norris Trophy is available on the NHL’s website). To put the award in perspective, names like Bobby Orr, Doug Harvey, and Nicklas Lidstrom top the list of most winners.

Last year, as noted earlier, Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks won the Norris Trophy. With 55 assists and 61 points, he had a great season as a defenseman, no doubt.

This season, Keith is leading the votes for defensemen selected by the fans for the NHL All Star game, along with teammate Brent Seabrook. Shea Weber is way behind Keith’s 1.04 million fan votes at a shade under 325,000. If the fans voted for the Norris Trophy, Weber would likely be overlooked again. But that does not mean he should not be and will not be in serious contention come June 2015.

Currently atop the stat board for NHL defensemen is Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames. Giordano is having a fantastic season thus far, and may get some serious looks when the voting for the Norris Trophy comes around.

The current statistical breakdown for all defensemen can be found at the NHL’s website. A quick glance shows Shea Weber currently slotted at number five overall. I personally think that when the dust settles, Weber will be at or very near the top. He’s that strong a player at his position and is playing for a team that is legit. If he heats up he could surpass last season’s 23 goals and 56 points. He is currently a +14 which is way better than last season -2. It’s up to him to finish obviously, but I am counting on Shea Weber to be in the running and finally get his first Norris Trophy in 2015.

For 

The Philadelphia Flyers came to town to face the Preds last Saturday night, and it was Shea Weber bobblehead night.

In the midst of speculation that the Flyers may try to acquire Weber in a trade, clearly the home team was sending a message that their captain is staying in the Music City. Sorry Andy Dudones, (covers the Flyers for the Hockey Writers) a Shea Weber bobblehead is all you get.

Mark Shiver is a staff writer for The Hockey Writers  credentialed with the Carolina Hurricanes. You can follow him on Twitter @markshiver