BOSTON, MA -- The NHL announced today that Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara is one of three finalists for the 2011-12 James Norris Trophy. The Norris Trophy is awarded annually awarded “to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position,” The other finalists for the award are Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and Nashville’s Shea Weber.
Chara's strong two-way play helped the Bruins capture their third Northeast Division title in the past four seasons. The Boston captain led all defensemen and tied for third in the NHL in plus-minus (+33) -- matching his League-leading rating from 2010-11 -- and recorded a career-high 52 points (12 goals, 40 assists) to rank fourth among all blueliners in scoring. In addition, he led the Bruins in power-play goals (eight) and average ice time per game (25:00). Chara is a Norris Trophy finalist for the fourth time in the past five seasons and for the fifth time overall; he captured the award in 2009, finished second in 2004 and was third in 2008 and 2011.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association submitted ballots for the Norris Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 20, during the 2012 NHL Awards from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. The 2012 NHL Awards will be broadcast by NBC Sports Network in the United States and CBC in Canada.
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
Karlsson enjoyed a breakout season, leading all NHL defensemen in scoring with 78 points (19 goals, 59 assists) in 81 games. He recorded 25 points more than any other League defenseman -- the widest winning margin since Pittsburgh's Paul Coffey lapped the field by 38 points in 1988-89 -- and set Ottawa franchise records for blueline assists and points. The 21-year-old also is the youngest defenseman to tally as many as 78 points in a season since Coffey's 96 with Edmonton in 1982-83. Karlsson topped NHL defensemen in shots (261), was ninth in the League in average ice time per game (25:19) and posted a +16 rating.
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
Weber ranked near the top of several categories, helping the Predators earn their seventh Stanley Cup Playoff berth in the past eight seasons. The Nashville captain placed sixth in scoring among all defensemen with 49 points (19 goals, 30 assists), with his 19 goals tied with fellow Norris finalist Erik Karlsson for first place. He ranked fifth in the NHL in average ice time per game (26:09), tied a career high and led all defensemen with 10 power-play goals and posted a team-leading and career-best +21 rating. Weber is a Norris Trophy finalist for the second consecutive season; he finished second to Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom in 2010-11.
The James Norris Memorial Trophy was presented in 1953 by the four children of the late James Norris in memory of the former owner-president of the Detroit Red Wings.