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Experts agree: Weber will win Norris Trophy

Wednesday, 09.28.2011 / 3:00 AM / 2011-2012 Season Preview

By Dan Rosen and E.J. Hradek - NHL.com Staff Writers

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Experts agree: Weber will win Norris Trophy
NHL.com's experts don't agree on much, but the debate over the Norris Trophy ended with both deciding Nashville's Shea Weber will win it.

Nicklas Lidstrom has taken home the Norris Trophy seven times in his illustrious career, including last season as the 41-year-old captain of the Detroit Red Wings.

Can he do it again?

The right answer is yes, Lidstrom absolutely can, because he's that good -- but that doesn't mean we think he's going to.

If you buy into what we're selling, the Norris Trophy will get some new fingerprints on it come late June, when all the hardware gets handed out at the annual NHL Awards Show:

ROSEN'S NORRIS TROPHY WINNER
Shea Weber, Predators

Weber will earn every penny of the $7.5 million coming his way this season. Forget being just a finalist for this award -- this season, he's finally going to take home the hardware.

With all due respect to Lidstrom, who edged Weber by a mere nine points to win the Norris last season, the Predators captain has taken over as the NHL's best blueliner. His ferocious style and bazooka slap shot make him, at least in my estimation, the most feared defenseman on the planet.

Weber, who measures 6-foot-4 and 232 pounds, had 48 points last season and helped the Predators advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. There's no reason he can't have the same kind of impact again.

As it was noted in The Tennessean, Weber spent his summer in Kelowna, B.C., where he couldn't get away from the talk about the Canucks beating his Predators en route to advancing to the Stanley Cup Final. So Weber arrived in training camp with a chip on his shoulder, looking to prove not only to the people of Nashville, but to the people of British Columbia, that his team is better.

HRADEK'S NORRIS TROPHY WINNER
Shea Weber, Predators

Weber finished last season as the runner-up in the Norris voting, just nine points behind Lidstrom, the Red Wings' legend. This season, the pick is Weber will take home the hardware.

At 6-4 and 232 pounds, Weber is a big man that plays with an edge. He can devastate an opponent with a big hit.

He's just as dangerous with the puck on his stick. Weber can absolutely rip it from the blue line, and his shot is so heavy that teammates aren't crazy about providing screens when he tees it up from the point -- not to mention what opposing goalies and defenders are thinking.

Shea Weber
Defense - NSH
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 32 | PTS: 48
SOG: 254 | +/-: 7
Weber scored 16 goals last season, and has 55 the last three seasons.

He benefits from playing alongside another terrific defender in Ryan Suter. There are some who feel Suter is every bit as good as Weber, if not better. While I'm not going to use this space to debate that argument, I think we can all agree that Suter is pretty darn good.

Weber does enter this season under different circumstances. He'll earn a franchise-record $7.5 million this season after winning his arbitration hearing. Whether he wants to admit it or not, expectations change when you're making that kind of cash. Also, I don't know if he’ll be distracted by the many questions about his future in Nashville. His current deal runs only through this season. He can be a restricted free agent next season; he doesn't become an unrestricted free agent until the summer of 2013.

While those are legitimate concerns, I think he'll be able to keep his focus on the task at hand. And he'll win the first of what could be multiple Norris trophies.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl. Follow E.J. Hradek on Twitter at: @EJHradek_NHL
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