The NHL has announced the three finalists for the Norris Trophy: the San Jose Sharks’ Brent Burns, the Ottawa Senators’ Erik Karlsson, and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman.
Hedman finished the season with career highs of 16 goals, 56 assists, and 76 points. Among defensemen, he was tied for fifth in goals, first in assists, and second in points. In addition, he set Lightning franchise records for defensemen in a season for assists and points. He tied for third-best in a season by a Lightning defenseman in goals. Hedman previously finished seventh in Norris voting in 2015-16, and ninth in 2013-14.
Brent Burns finished with an obscene 29 goals, easily the best among all defensemen in the NHL this season. His 29 goals were the most by a defenseman since Mike Green had 31 goals in 2008-09 for the Washington Capitals, and the third most since 1990-91. Burns finished 1st in goals, tied for 3rd in assists, and first in points among defensemen this season. Burns finished 3rd in Norris voting in 2015-16, 21st in 2014-15, and 12th in 2007-08.
Erik Karlsson is a finalist for the Norris Trophy for the fourth time in his career. He has won the Norris Trophy twice, in 2014-15 and 2011-12. He finished second in 2015-16. His other finishes are a seventh-place finish in 2013-14, and 18th in 2012-13. Karlsson finished the year tied for2nd in goals, 2nd in assists, and 3rd in points. In addition, Karlsson finished second in the NHL with 201 blocked shots.
That’s great, but who’s going to win?
As much as Lightning fans want Hedman to win, all signs point towards Burns for the award winner this season.
His offensive prowess from the blueline is one of the best performances of the past 20 years. If you look into the advanced stats, there are some things that point towards some advantages from Hedman.
All statics below taken from Corsica.Hockey and are Score and Venue adjusted.
Burns has a far higher Corsi For per 60 (CF60) at 68.55 against Hedman’s 58.20. On the other side of the puck, Hedman fares better at preventing shot attempts with a 52.04 Corsi Against per 60 (CA60) against Burns’ 57.33. Karlsson’s Corsi For per 60 is comparable to Hedman’s at 58.20, but his Corsi Against per 60 is closer to Burns’ at 59.93.
When comparing Coris For Percentages (CF%), Burns tops the three at 54.46% with Hedman coming next at 52.78% and Karlsson at 49.27%.
Hedman’s Expected Goals For (xGF) are the worst of the three and his Expected Goals Against (xGA) are the best of the three. That means that when they are on the ice, Burns and Karlsson’s teams are getting more dangerous shooting chances. But in the defensive zone, Hedman and his teammates have been better at preventing more dangerous shots.
In actual Goals Against (GA) though, Burns wasn’t burn-ed too much by allowing better shots. He actually comes in as the best of the three in Goals Against while Hedman comes in as the worst. Burns was aided by a .930 SV% by his goaltenders at even strength while Hedman only got a .922 SV% behind him.
On five-on-four penalty kills, Hedman had the best CA60 of the three at 79.44. Burns’ CA60 of 84.61 was the worst of the three with Karlsson in the middle at 83.20. Burns and Karlsson’s teams were better at getting shorthanded chances and their CF% is higher than Hedman’s due to that. Even with that advantage, Burns and Karlsson only saw two shorthanded goals while on the ice and Hedman saw one scored. Hedman also clocks in as the best of the three in GA and GA60 on the penalty kill.
While the award is voted on by members of The Professional Hockey Writers, there is still some resistance in that group to advanced stats. But a number of writers have embraced advanced stats, which led to Drew Doughty winning last season, despite having a far less impressive offensive season.