The Tampa Bay Lightning have never had a Norris Trophy winner. The franchise has never really gotten that close to it either. Not too long ago, taking an idea from Sean McIndoe of Down Goes Brown fame, we looked at what awards the Lightning might have won if the major awards were split by conference (much like Major League Baseball’s awards).
In that revisionist history, Dan Boyle’s 2007 4th place Norris Trophy finish would have become an award. But in reality, that’s the closest the Lightning have come. They have never had a finalist.
So far, our Swedefender’s best finishes have been 7th and 9th in voting.
But this is the year! Victor Hedman has 36 points in 40 games, which currently has him 2nd in the league for defenseman scoring, just a point behind Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks, and four points ahead of perennial Norris candidate Erik Karlsson.
Karlsson has won the Norris twice and been a finalist one other time. In his Norris winning seasons, he had 78 points and 66 points. Last season as a finalist he had 82 points. Karlsson will always get a look because his offense is off the charts for defensemen. Burns will get a lot of attention because he scores a lot of goals. In fact, his 15 goals is five ahead of the next defenseman, Shea Weber, and puts him on pace for 30 goals this season. That would be absolutely ridiculous.
Hedman’s 0.90 point per game scoring so far this season puts him on pace for 74 points. There are obviously questions about whether he’ll continue this offensive output, since many of his points coming from assists. Hedman has also picked up 18 of his points on the power play to lead defensemen in the NHL. The Lightning’s power play would need to continue producing at its current levels to keep him on track for breaking his career highs.
Looking at possession numbers for defensemen with at least 650 minutes time on ice at five on five, his Corsi-For per 60 and Corsi-Against per 60 don’t jump out as being incredible alone in either category. However, his Corsi-For Percentage ranks him 11th among his blue line peers.
While you could say that the Lightning’s lack of success on the ice this season could be a hindrance to his chances, this never stopped Karlsson. Ottawa made the playoffs in both seasons he won, but they lost in the first round both times. They were second in their division the first time around, and a wild card the second time around. Last season with Karlsson a finalist, Ottawa missed the playoffs.
With Hedman going on a tear over the last month and a half, it’s time he gets more attention. He is a constantly underrated and overlooked defenseman around the league. Because he plays in a small market, he doesn’t get the media attention nationally that he would if he played in New York, Montreal, or Toronto.
We’re going to tweet #HedmanForNorris, early and often. We’re going to get the word out to the people about our beloved Swedefender from Ornskoldsvik. He deserves a Norris and we deserve some hope in this otherwise disappointing season — join us! Let’s hear it for Hedman!